The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a comprehensive data protection and privacy regulation that came into effect on May 25, 2018, in the European Union (EU). It replaced the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and is designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, as well as to provide greater protection and rights to individuals regarding their personal data.
Key principles and aspects of the GDPR include:
- Territorial Scope: The GDPR applies to organizations that process personal data of individuals in the EU, regardless of where the organization is located. This means that companies outside the EU that offer goods or services to EU residents or monitor their behavior are subject to the regulation.
- Data Subject Rights: The GDPR grants individuals (data subjects) various rights regarding their personal data, including the right to access, rectification, erasure (right to be forgotten), and data portability. Individuals also have the right to object to certain types of processing, such as direct marketing.
- Lawful Processing: Organizations must have a lawful basis for processing personal data. This could include obtaining the individual’s consent, processing necessary for the performance of a contract, compliance with a legal obligation, protection of vital interests, the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority, and legitimate interests pursued by the data controller or a third party.
- Data Protection Officer (DPO): In certain cases, organizations are required to appoint a Data Protection Officer, responsible for ensuring compliance with the GDPR.
- Data Breach Notification: Organizations must report certain types of data breaches to the relevant supervisory authority within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach. If the breach is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals, the affected individuals must also be notified.
- Privacy by Design and Default: Privacy considerations must be integrated into the development of systems, products, and processes from the outset (privacy by design). Additionally, only the necessary personal data for each specific purpose should be processed (privacy by default).
- Accountability: Organizations are required to demonstrate compliance with the GDPR and are accountable for the personal data they process. This includes maintaining records of processing activities and conducting Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) for high-risk processing activities.
Non-compliance with the GDPR can result in significant fines, which can be as high as 4% of an organization’s global annual revenue or €20 million, whichever is greater, depending on the nature of the violation. Organizations that process personal data are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the GDPR and take steps to ensure compliance.