What The Board Needs To Know About the GDPR

What The Board Needs To Know About the GDPR

Executives in businesses around the globe have been tracking The European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect 25 May 2018. Those who operate primarily in the EU have had plenty of time to focus on this and no excuses for not paying attention. Those who operate primarily elsewhere also have no excuse to not be aware of the GDPR and should have already assessed how things should change because of these new rules. We have found, however, that many firms in the EU and the US and elsewhere are still not paying enough attention to these very serious rules. Admittedly our sample size is small and this may not be reflective of the majority of firms, but we have seen indications that many firms are adopting a strategy of putting their collective head’s in the sand or not really doing a serious assessment of the potential impact of GDPR on the firm.

The objective of these new rules is to improve privacy and security of critical personal information. The rules are also designed to harmonize many different rules active across Europe and this should make overall compliance easier. But still, for most, compliance will require changes be put into place for how data is stored and also changes put in place for how people can be put in control of their own data. Remember, the GDPR is not just about firms that operate in the EU. It applies to firms that have data on EU citizens. The GDPR requires that to collect info on EU citizens, the citizens must give their consent and the citizen also has the right to be forgotten. The data it applies to is broad, including even IP addresses.

At this point, just 20 days away from the compliance deadline, we recommend all firms do three things:

  1. Read the rules yourself. They are not that hard to read and think about
  2. Consult outside counsel. Pick a law firm you know and trust and ensure they have knowledge of the GDPR. Ask us if you need some recommendations.
  3. Seek an external review of your technical architectures for compliance. Our firm, Crucial Point, is a good place to start here.

We recommend that boards (including Audit Committees for those that have them) should evaluate their company’s data retention activities and policies to see if they are in need of modification to comply. Boards should ask CEOs and the management team to assess where exposure to GDPR non compliance is greatest and prioritize actions to fix. Boards should ask questions to determine if line of business leaders realize they are responsible for compliance vice just assuming this is an IT function. And boards should know who the Data Protection Officer (DPO) is for the firm.

Here is more on the GDPR:

  • Fines for non-compliance are up to 4% of annual revenues.
  • Customers must consent for processing of their data
  • Personal data must be protected. This includes anything related to a natural person or anything that can be used to indirectly identify the person. This includes names, photos, email addresses, bank details, addresses, posts on social media sites, medical info, IP addresses
  • The rule describes a new position, a Data Protection Officer (DPO), which will be required for firms that do large scale monitoring or processing of sensitive data
  • Consent of users is required and it must be asked for and granted in specific ways before collecting and processing data.
  • Citizens are given new authorities over their data including right to have it removed (a right to be forgotten)
  • Data protections are expected to be designed into systems
  • If there is a breach of personal information, the citizen will be notified and impact assessments done
  • Transfer of data to other countries and organizations is regulated
  • Companies are expected to maintain a state of the art cybersecurity architecture and posture

We can accelerate your compliance with GDPR and do so in a way that helps your security posture.  Contact us today and see if we can help you accelerate your compliance.

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