Ask Emma: What does the General Data Protection Regulation mean for my business?

Ask Emma: What does the General Data Protection Regulation mean for my business?
Emma Jones
Emma JonesFounderEnterprise Nation

Posted: Sun 1st Jul 2018

On 25 May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force across the EU and will be the regulation defining what small businesses can and can't do with data. Many people have asked me what GDPR will mean for their business. Read on for the answer.

GDPR replaces the Data Protection Act and the UK's requirement to adhere to the new regulation is unaffected by leaving the EU.

Although the principles of the DPA are similar to the GDPR, the fundamental difference is that the GDPR is a regulation, and therefore the penalties for misuse or mishandling of data are more severe.

GDPR requirements

Here's a summary of the key GDPR requirements. Data needs to be:

  • processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to individuals

  • collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes

  • further processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes shall not be considered to be incompatible with the initial purposes

  • adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed

  • accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay

  • kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed; personal data may be stored for longer periods insofar as the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes subject to implementation of the appropriate technical and organisational measures required by the GDPR in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of individuals

  • processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures

Steps to comply

There are some steps you can take now to ensure you're compliant.

  • As founder, ensure you are fully versed on the responsibilities required by the new regulation. The CEO is ultimately responsible if there is a data breech

  • If you have staff, make one of them a data protection officer for the business who will ensure staff are trained on GDPR, as well as being the first point of call in the event of an issue

  • Examine all current use of data (newsletter sign-ups, event attendees etc) and what you use to capture and process it. Then assess the risk points (e.g. where do you store data reports? Are laptops appropriately password protected? How often email passwords changed?)

  • Create or update your data usage policy based on this risk assessment

  • Develop an action plan should an issue occur

  • Review your contract with your web agency to ensure you feel fully comfortable that they are taking required steps to be compliant with the regulation on your behalf

  • Register with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) as a data controller. This will be required under the GDPR

  • Consider the GDPR with any new technical agency you hire

Find out more here and ready your business so it's all set for GDPR.

With thanks to Cat Elliott for her help with this post.

Emma Jones is founder of Enterprise Nation.

Emma Jones
Emma JonesFounderEnterprise Nation
Following a degree in Law and Japanese, Emma joined international accounting firm Arthur Andersen, where she worked in London, Leeds and Manchester offices and set up the firm's Inward Investment practice that attracted overseas companies to locate in the UK. In 2000, bitten by the bug, Emma left the firm to start her first business, Techlocate. After 15 months, the company was successfully sold to Tenon plc. The experience of starting, growing and selling a business from a home base gave Emma the idea for Enterprise Nation which was launched in 2006 as the home business website. The company has since expanded to become a small business membership community of over 75,000 people who benefit from events and support: online and in person. Enterprise Nation also presents a campaigning voice to government and the media on behalf of its members. In 2021, Emma was awarded a CBE for services to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

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