What is the GDPR?
The European Parliament adopted the GDPR in April 2016, replacing an outdated data protection directive from 1995. It carries provisions that require businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. The GDPR also regulates the exportation of personal data outside the EU.
The provisions are consistent across all 28 EU member states, which means that companies have just one standard to meet within the EU. However, that standard is quite high and will require most companies to make a large investment to meet and to administer.
According to an Ovum report, about two-thirds of U.S. companies believe that the GDPR will require them to rethink their strategy in Europe. Even more (85 percent) see the GDPR putting them at a competitive disadvantage with European companies.
Why does the GDPR exist?
The short answer to that question is public concern over privacy. Europe in general has long had more stringent rules around how companies use the personal data of its citizens. The GDPR replaces the EU’s Data Protection Directive, which went into effect in 1995. This was well before the internet became the online business hub that it is today. Consequently, the directive is outdated and does not address many ways in which data is stored, collected and transferred today.
How real is the public concern over privacy? It is significant and it grows with every new high-profile data breach. According to the RSA Data Privacy & Security Report, for which RSA surveyed 7,500 consumers in France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the U.S., 80 percent of consumers said lost banking and financial data is a top concern. Lost security information (e.g., passwords) and identity information (e.g., passports or driving license) was cited as a concern of 76 percent of the respondents.
An alarming statistic for companies that deal with consumer data is the 62 percent of the respondents to the RSA report who say they would blame the company for their lost data in the event of a breach, not the hacker. The report’s authors concluded that, “As consumers become better informed, they expect more transparency and responsiveness from the stewards of their data.”
Lack of trust in how companies treat their personal information has led some consumers to take their own countermeasures. According to the report, 41 percent of the respondents said they intentionally falsify data when signing up for services online. Security concerns, a wish to avoid unwanted marketing, or the risk of having their data resold were among their top concerns.
The report also shows that consumers will not easily forgive a company once a breach exposing their personal data occurs. Seventy-two percent of US respondents said they would boycott a company that appeared to disregard the protection of their data. Fifty percent of all respondents said they would be more likely to shop at a company that could prove it takes data protection seriously.
“As businesses continue their digital transformations, making greater use of digital assets, services, and big data, they must also be accountable for monitoring and protecting that data on a daily basis,” concluded the report.
What types of privacy data does the GDPR protect?
- Basic identity information such as name, address and ID numbers
- Web data such as location, IP address, cookie data and RFID tags
- Health and genetic data
- Biometric data
- Racial or ethnic data
- Political opinions
- Sexual orientation