The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

What is the GDPR?

The EU's GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a pan-European data protection law, which superseded the EU’s 1995 Data Protection Directive, and all member state law based on that directive, on 25 May 2018. Significant and wide-reaching in scope, the new law brings a 21st-century approach to data protection. It expands the rights of individuals to control how their personal data is collected and processed, and places a range of new obligations on organisations (both controllers and processors) to be more accountable for data protection.

The GDPR also gives member states limited opportunities to make provisions or derogations for how the Regulation applies in their country; Ireland has done so via its Data Protection Act 2018 which came into effect from 25 May 2018.

GDPR – an ongoing compliance journey

25 May 2018 was just the beginning – the GDPR requires clear evidence of an organisation’s ongoing commitment and compliance efforts. You must ensure that you maintain your data processing practices to adequately address any emerging privacy and security risks.

If you have not yet started your GDPR journey, you should prioritise tackling those areas where a lack of action leaves your organisation exposed. When an infringement occurs, demonstrating you have made a start could help reduce potential penalties.

GDPR compliance overview

Our Free EU General Data Protection Regulation – Compliance guide, gives an overview of the key areas of change introduced by the Regulation and the critical areas organisations need to be aware of when preparing for compliance. 

Download now

The Business benefits of the GDPR

Watch our short video where Alan Calder, IT Governance Founder and Executive Chairman, answers the important questions surrounding the EU GDPR and how it affects businesses in the EU.

While the GDPR maybe complex and challenging there are business benefits to be gained from compliance:

  • Build customer trust
  • Improve brand image and reputation
  • Improve data governance
  • Improve information security
  • Improve competitive advantage

Who does the GDPR apply to?

  • All EU organisations that collect, store or otherwise process the personal data of individuals residing in the EU, even if they’re not EU citizens.
  • Organisations based outside the EU that offer goods or services to EU residents, monitor their behaviour, or process their personal data.
Find out how your organisation can start its journey to becoming GDPR-compliant today >>

The principle requirements

Click to expand some key changes introduced by the Regulation:

  • Establishing a governance structure with roles and responsibilities.
  • Keeping a detailed record of all data processing operations.
  • Documenting data protection policies and procedures.
  • Carrying out DPIAs (data protection impact assessments) for high-risk processing operations. Find out more about DPIAs >>
  • Implementing appropriate measures to secure personal data.
  • Conducting staff awareness training.
  • Where required, appointing a data protection officer.

Read our GDPR compliance checklist >>

  • Processed lawfully, fairly and transparently.
  • Collected only for specific legitimate purposes.
  • Adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary.
  • Accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date.
  • Stored only as long as is necessary.
  • Processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security.

  • If the data subject has given their consent.
  • To meet contractual obligations.
  • To comply with legal obligations.
  • To protect the data subject’s vital interests.
  • For tasks in the public interest.
  • For the legitimate interests of the organisation.

  • Consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous.
  • A request for consent must be intelligible and in clear, plain language.
  • Silence, pre-ticked boxes and inactivity will no longer suffice as consent.
  • Consent can be withdrawn at any time.
  • Consent for online services from a child under 13 is only valid with parental or guardian authorisation.
  • Organisations must be able to evidence consent and the withdrawal of consent.

  • Appropriate safeguards should be integrated into the processing.
  • Data protection must be considered at the design stage of any new process, system or technology.
  • A DPIA (data protection impact assessment) is an integral part of privacy by design
  • The Data Protection Commission (Ireland's data protection supervisory authority) has published a list of processing activities where a DPIA must be completed - this can be found on their website

  • When personal data is collected directly from data subjects, data controllers must provide a privacy notice at the time of collection.
  • When personal data is not obtained directly from data subjects, data controllers must provide a privacy notice without undue delay, at the latest within a month. This must be provided the first time they communicate with the data subject, but no later than a month after obtaining the personal data.
  • For all processing activities, data controllers must decide how the data subjects will be informed and design privacy notices accordingly. Notices can be issued in stages.
  • Privacy notices must be provided to data subjects in a concise, transparent and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language.

  • Where the EU has designated a country as providing an adequate level of data protection;
  • Through model contracts or binding corporate rules; or
  • By complying with an approved certification mechanism, e.g. EU-US Privacy Shield.

  • Data processors are required to report all breaches of personal data to data controllers.
  • Data controllers are required to report breaches to the Data Protection Commission (DPC) within 72 hours of their discovery if there is a risk to data subjects’ rights and freedoms.
  • Data subjects themselves must be notified without undue delay if there is a high risk to their rights and freedoms.

  • The processing is carried out by a public authority;
  • The core activities of the organisation require regular and systematic monitoring of data subject on a large scale or;
  • The core activities of the organisations involve large-scale processing of special categories of data and personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences.

A DPO has set tasks:

  • Inform and advise the organisation of its obligations.
  • Monitor compliance, including awareness raising, staff training and completion of audits.
  • Provide advice on data protection impact assessments.
  • Cooperate with the Data Protection Commission (DPC) and act as a contact point for both the DPC and data subjects.

Find out more about the key changes introduced by the GDPR and how you can comply by downloading our free green paper >>

What is personal data? 

Personal data is any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (data subject). The Regulation places much stronger controls on the processing of special categories of personal data (previously referred to as sensitive personal data) than the Irish Data Protection Act. The inclusion of genetic and biometric data is new to this category.

Personal data

  • Name
  • Address
  • Email address
  • Photo
  • Identification number (including online identifiers and IP addresses)
  • Location data
  • Online behaviour (cookies)
  • Profiling and analytics data
  • One or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of a natural person.

Special categories of personal data

  • Racial or ethnic origin
  • Religious or philosophical beliefs
  • Political opinions
  • Trade union membership
  • Sex life or sexual orientation
  • Health
  • The processing of biometric data
  • Genetic data

How will Brexit affect the GDPR?

There is a very real possibility that the UK will leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement or deal in place. Should this happen, the UK will become a third country. A third country is any country or territory outside the European Economic Area and while data transfers to a third country can happen - this is only if the third country is deemed to have an adequate level of data protection. This is a detailed process that must be completed with the European Commission and can take a significant amount of time - months running into years. The UK can only apply to become an adequate country when it has exited the European Union. Any organisations from third countries without an adequacy decision must adopt appropriate safeguards to transfer data from the EEA to a third country. There are several appropriate safeguards including binding corporate rules, certification mechanisms and standard contractual clauses.

The Data Protection Commission recommends that an Irish organisation intending to transfer personal data to the UK post-Brexit will need to put in place specific safeguards to protect the data in the context of its transfer and subsequent processing. The Data Protection Commission recommends the use of Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs). These are pre-drafted contracts which are available on the European Commission's website and once you do not amend any of the clauses, the agreement will be considered an appropriate tool for transfer providing you have the appropriate technical and organisational measures in place to protect the data before, during and after transfer.

Find out how your organisation can start its journey to becoming GDPR-compliant today >>

How IT Governance can help you get GDPR-ready

IT Governance, a leading global provider of IT governance, risk management and compliance solutions, is at the forefront of helping organisations globally address the challenges of GDPR compliance.

Browse our range of free resources and comprehensive solutions to help you meet your GDPR compliance objectives.

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