GDPR info


Who does the GDPR apply to?

'Controllers' and 'processors' of data need to abide by the GDPR. A data controller states how and why personal data is processed, while a processor is the party doing the actual processing of the data. So the controller could be any organisation, from a profit-seeking company to a charity or government. A processor could be an IT firm doing the actual data processing.

Even if controllers and processors are based outside the EU, the GDPR will still apply to them so long as they're dealing with data belonging to EU residents.

It's the controller's responsibility to ensure their processor abides by data protection law and processors must themselves abide by rules to maintain records of their processing activities. If processors are involved in a data breach, they are far more liable under GDPR than they were under the Data Protection Act.

Once the legislation comes into effect, controllers must ensure personal data is processed lawfully, transparently, and for a specific purpose. Once that purpose is fulfilled and the data is no longer required, it should be deleted.


What do you mean by 'lawful'?

'Lawfully' has a range of alternative meanings, not all of which need apply. Firstly, it could be lawful if the subject has consented to their data being processed. Alternatively, lawful can mean to comply with a contract or legal obligation; to protect an interest that is "essential for the life of" the subject; if processing the data is in the public interest; or if doing so is in the controller's legitimate interest - such as preventing fraud.

At least one of these justifications must apply in order to process data.


How do I get consent under the GDPR?

Consent must be an active, affirmative action by the data subject, rather than the passive acceptance under some current models that allow for pre-ticked boxes or opt-outs.

Controllers must keep a record of how and when an individual gave consent, and that individual may withdraw their consent whenever they want. If your current model for obtaining consent doesn't meet these new rules, you'll have to bring it up to scratch or stop collecting data under that model when the GDPR applies in 2018.


What counts as personal data under the GDPR?

The EU has substantially expanded the definition of personal data under the GDPR. To reflect the types of data organisations now collect about people, online identifiers such as IP addresses now qualify as personal data. Other data, like economic, cultural or mental health information, are also considered personally identifiable information.

Pseudonymised personal data may also be subject to GDPR rules, depending on how easy or hard it is to identify whose data it is.

Anything that counted as personal data under the Data Protection Act also qualifies as personal data under the GDPR.


When can people access the data we store on them?

People can ask for access at "reasonable intervals", and controllers must generally respond within one month. The GDPR requires that controllers and processors must be transparent about how they collect data, what they do with it, and how they process it and must be clear (using plain language) in explaining these things to people.

People have the right to access any information a company holds on them, and the right to know why that data is being processed, how long it's stored for, and who gets to see it. Where possible, data controllers should provide secure, direct access for people to review what information a controller stores about them.

They can also ask for that data, if incorrect or incomplete, to be rectified whenever they want.


What's the 'right to be forgotten'?

Individuals also have the right to demand that their data is deleted if it's no longer necessary to the purpose for which it was collected. This is known as the 'right to be forgotten'. Under this rule, they can also demand that their data is erased if they've withdrawn their consent for their data to be collected, or object to the way it is being processed.

The controller is responsible for telling other organisations (for instance, Google) to delete any links to copies of that data, as well as the copies themselves.


What if they want to move their data elsewhere?

Controllers must now store people's information in commonly used formats (like CSV files), so that they can move a person's data to another organisation (free of charge) if the person requests it. Controllers must do this within one month.


What if we suffer a data breach?

It's your responsibility to inform your data protection authority of any data breach that risks people's rights and freedoms within 72 hours of your organisation becoming aware of it. The UK authority is the Information Commissioner's Office. 

That deadline is tight enough to mean that you probably won't know every detail of a breach after discovering it. However, your initial contact with your data protection authority should outline the nature of the data that's affected, roughly how many people are impacted, what the consequences could mean for them, and what measures you've already actioned or plan to action in response.

But even before you call the data protection authority, you should tell the people affected by the data breach. Those who fail to meet the 72-hour deadline could face a penalty of up to 2% of their annual worldwide revenue, or €10 million, whichever is higher.

If you don't follow the basic principles for processing data, such as having a legal basis for doing so, ignore individuals' rights over their data, or transfer data to another country, the fines are even worse. Your data protection authority could issue a penalty of up to €20 million or 4% of your global annual turnover, whichever is greater.

Use our documentation package to avoid any sanctions