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The EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

What is the GDPR?

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) took effect on 25 May 2018, superseding all national data protection laws in the EU, including Belgium’s Privacywet. The Regulation brings a 21st-century approach to data protection, expanding the rights of individuals to control how their personal information is collected and processed, and requiring organisations to be more accountable for the data they handle.

The EU member states also have limited opportunities to make derogations for how the GDPR applies in their country. In Belgium, the Regulation was transposed into law via an implementation bill, the Wet betreffende  de bescherming van natuurlijke personen met  betrekking tot de verwerking van persoonsgegevens, on 30 July 2018.

GDPR – an ongoing compliance journey

When tackling GDPR compliance, you should prioritise those areas where a lack of action leaves your organisation exposed. If you suffer a data breach, demonstrating that your organisation is making progress towards compliance could help reduce potential penalties. 

Find out more about the key steps to GDPR compliance >>

No matter what stage of your compliance journey you are at, IT Governance can help. Speak to one of our experts today to find out how your organisation can become GDPR compliant.

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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

Personal data

Under the GDPR, personal data is any information, in any format, that can directly or indirectly identify a natural person. Special category data is personal data that is more sensitive in nature and is subject to greater protection. Special category data includes genetic and biometric data.

Personal data

  • Name
  • Address
  • Email address
  • Photo
  • IP address
  • Location data
  • Online behaviour (cookies)
  • Profiling and analytics data

Special categories of personal data

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Political opinions
  • Trade union membership
  • Sexual orientation
  • Health information
  • Biometric data
  • Genetic data

Which organisations does the GDPR apply to?

The GDPR applies to all EU organisations – whether commercial business, charity or public authority – that collect, store or process EU residents’ personal data, irrespective of nationality. Organisations based outside the EU that offer goods or services to EU residents, monitor their behaviour or process their personal data are also subject to the GDPR.

Service providers (data processors) that process data on behalf of an organisation (data controller) come under the remit of the GDPR and will have specific compliance obligations. An example might be an organisation that processes your payroll or a Cloud provider that offers data storage.

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

The key elements of the GDPR

  • Processed lawfully, fairly and transparently.
  • Collected only for specific legitimate purposes.
  • Adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary.
  • Must be accurate and kept up to date.
  • Stored only as long as is necessary.
  • Ensure appropriate security, integrity and confidentiality.

  • The establishment of a governance structure with roles and responsibilities.
  • Keeping a detailed record of all data processing operations.
  • The documentation of data protection policies and procedures.
  • DPIAs (data protection impact assessments) for high-risk processing operations. Learn more >>
  • Implementing appropriate measures to secure personal data.
  • Staff training and awareness.
  • Where necessary, appoint a data protection officer.

  • Data protection must be considered at the design stage of any new process, system or technology.
  • A DPIA is an integral part of privacy by design.
  • The default collection mode must be to gather only the personal data that is necessary for a specific purpose.

  • Direct consent from the individual;
  • The necessity to perform a contract;
  • Protecting the vital interests of the individual;
  • The legal obligations of the organisation;
  • Necessity for the public interest; and
  • 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 authorisation.
  • Organisations must be able to evidence consent.

  • The right of access to personal data through subject access requests.
  • The right to correct inaccurate personal data.
  • The right in certain cases to have personal data erased.
  • The right to object.
  • The right to move personal data from one service provider to another (data portability).

  • Privacy notices must be provided 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 breaches must be reported to the data protection authority within 72 hours of discovery.
  • Individuals impacted should be told where there exists a high risk to their rights and freedoms, e.g. identity theft, personal safety.

  • Public authorities;
  • Organisations involved in high-risk processing; and
  • Organisations processing special categories of data.

A DPO has set tasks:

  • Inform and advise the organisation of its obligations.
  • Monitor compliance, including awareness raising, staff training and audits.
  • Cooperate with data protection authorities and act as a contact point.

GDPR enforcement and penalties

The GDPR’s sizeable administrative fines for non-compliance have attracted widespread media and business interest.

Two tiers of fines can be levied, based on the specific articles of the Regulation that an organisation has breached: 

  1. Up to €10 million, or 2% annual global turnover (whichever is higher).
  2. Up to €20 million, or 4% annual global turnover (whichever is higher).

However, these fines are discretionary rather than mandatory. They must be imposed on a case-by-case basis and must be “effective, proportionate and dissuasive”. .

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 comprehensive solutions, services and products to help you meet your GDPR compliance objectives.


Free GDPR resources

Speak to a GDPR expert

Please contact our GDPR team for advice and guidance on our products and services