The General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) ('GDPR') will enter into force in May 2018. It will create a single law on data protection across the EU. It will have a significant impact on organisations in Europe as well as any organisation (wherever situated) that may hold data on Europeans. This data may be customers, business partners or employees. If you simplify the rights to the individual that GDPR introduces it is simply this:

1.      You must get consent to hold data on a person, and you must explain why you hold that data and for how long;

2.     A person can ask you for information you hold on them and you are obliged to provide it. Information includes written and digital records;

3.     A person has a right to demand that you remove their details from your records;

4.     If you transfer data outside your borders it must be anonymised and of course protected.

All of this is eminently sensible, but requires investment for all organisations to comply. The challenge is that there are few exemptions other than the obvious - defence, police, NHS and (surprisingly) the Media.

Organisations that hold data to meet their legal obligations (or fulfill a statutory purpose are not exempt from the Act. They simply do not have to comply with requests to remove details or ask consent to hold data. They must however comply with all other aspects of GDPR.

In the UK, GDPR replaces 20-year-old Data Protection Legislation. It introduces legislation with significantly more powers to punish non-compliance. The Regulator will have powers to impose significant fines for non-compliance of up to 4% of annual worldwide turnover for a corporate group.  Non – Commercial organisations will face fines, reputational damage and of course compensation claims from those impacted. It is anticipated that ‘PPI’ style agencies will switch from targeting PPI claims (which end in 2019) to claims for compensation under the new laws.


With only a few months to go until the GDPR becomes law, organisations should now seriously consider the impact of the GDPR by carrying out a comprehensive internal gap analysis of current data privacy and cybersecurity practices as compared to GDPR requirements. The ICO provides free recommendations, we set out below some broad brush recommendations as a starter for ten:

DATA MAPPING: In english that is map and understand, where your data is, what data is deemed sensitive and understand where your data comes from and to;

SCOPE: Garner an understanding of that the GDPR applies to ( for instance):

  • any EU based controller (user) of personal data and anybody who processes data on their behalf. For instance, if you outsource your IT services or transfer information to associate businesses and organisations;
  • an entity with no EU presence at all which processes the personal data of an individual in the EU. That could be an outsourced business in India or China, for instance.

DATA PROTECTION IMPACT ASSESSMENTS (DPIAs): Data Protection Impact Assessments ('DPIAs') should be completed when using new technologies and where processing techniques are likely to result in a high risk to individuals (e.g. employee monitoring). DPIAs need to be done now for current activities.

CONSENT, NOTICES AND POLICIES: Consent is king. Providing detailed privacy information to individuals will be required under the GDPR (such as how long data is retained). To be compliant, consent must be unambiguous and specific. Separate consent is required for each use of data. This will have significant impact on organisation such as Charities, those who run Membership schemes, Local authorities and all of us who invest heavily in CRM systems. Data Brokers will need to rethink their business models.

INDIVIDUALS' NEW PRIVACY RIGHTS: Understand the new privacy rights of individuals including tights to....

  • erasure of data (e.g., when data is no longer necessary or consent is withdrawn);
  • object to processing, including in relation to direct marketing; and
  • data portability (i.e., transferring data to another controller where processing is based on consent or on contract performance).

Organisations will need systems to provide proof. ‘Yes, we did that' is not compliant.

  • RESTRICTIONS ON PROFILING: The GDPR imposes new restrictions on organisations that conduct automated decision-making, e.g. profiling (essentially any form of analysis of personal data) with some exceptions.

MANDATORY DATA BREACH REPORTING: Under the GDPR, personal data breaches must be reported without undue delay to the data protection authority and where feasible within 72 hours. Where the breach is likely to result in a high risk to affected individuals they must also be notified without undue delay. Organisations should implement appropriate technical and organisational measures against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and loss/destruction of or damage to personal data.

AMENDING YOUR CONTRACTS: Under the GDPR, we recommend your procurement contracts are reviewed and amended to contain obligations for your suppliers to:

  1. assist with data subjects' rights requests;
  2. notify you of data breaches; and
  3. assist you with DPIAs.

If you supply a service or product, you may find your customers and business partners asking you to do the same thing.  

INTERNATIONAL DATA TRANSFERS: The GDPR has a lot to say about transfers of personal data to countries outside the EEA (such as the US) that are deemed by the EU to not provide an adequate level of protection. International transfer solutions include among others:

  1. Consent, that must be freely given and meet GDPR consent requirements;
  2. EU Standard Contractual Clauses;
  3. Binding Corporate Rules;
  4. Approved Codes of Conduct or certification mechanisms; and
  5. The EU-US Privacy Shield.

Its a hefty piece of legislation, don't ignore it! but see the act as an opportunity and not a red tape challenge. Beware of the GDPR know-alls who want to split the atom with their encyclopedic knowledge of the act, ultimately the ICO is taking a sensible line on the Act. Look to those who can support your implementation of the act operationally and pragmatically rather than those who wish to argue the toss about interpretation.

This list is not exhaustive but gives the general thrust of GDPR. For further guidance feel free to contact our Information Security and Regulatory Compliance Practice at