General Data Protection Regulation

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a comprehensive data protection and privacy law that was implemented in the European Union (EU) on May 25, 2018. It replaced the Data Protection Directive of 1995 and was designed to harmonize data protection laws across the EU member states and enhance the privacy rights of individuals. The GDPR applies to any organization that processes personal data of individuals residing in the EU, regardless of where the organization itself is located. It sets out a range of rights and obligations concerning the processing of personal data and aims to give individuals more control over their personal information. Key elements of the GDPR include:

Expanded Scope: The GDPR applies to all organizations processing personal data of EU residents, regardless of the organization’s location.

Consent: Organizations must obtain clear and affirmative consent from individuals before collecting and processing their personal data. Consent must be specific, informed, and freely given, and individuals have the right to withdraw consent at any time.

Data Subject Rights: The GDPR grants individuals several rights, including the right to access their personal data, the right to rectify inaccuracies, the right to erasure (also known as the “right to be forgotten”), the right to restrict processing, the right to data portability, and the right to object to certain types of processing.

Data Protection Officer (DPO): Some organizations are required to appoint a Data Protection Officer who oversees data protection activities within the organization and serves as a point of contact for individuals and supervisory authorities.

Data Breach Notification: Organizations must report data breaches to the relevant supervisory authority within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach, unless the breach is unlikely to result in risks to individuals’ rights and freedoms.

Accountability and Governance: The GDPR emphasizes the principle of accountability, requiring organizations to implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure data protection. They must maintain records of their data processing activities and conduct data protection impact assessments for high-risk processing.

Penalties: Non-compliance with the GDPR can result in significant penalties, including fines of up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher.

The GDPR aims to strengthen individuals’ rights, promote transparency in data processing, and encourage organizations to adopt robust data protection practices. It has had a significant impact on how organizations worldwide handle and protect personal data, as many companies outside the EU have also adjusted their practices to comply with the regulation.