In an increasingly interconnected world where data flows freely, ensuring the privacy and protection of personal information has become an utmost concern. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was implemented by the European Union (EU) on May 25, 2018. This was a significant milestone in the realm of data privacy and protection. This regulation sets a global standard for how organizations collect, process, store, and handle personal data of EU citizens.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a comprehensive set of data privacy rules designed to give EU citizens and data subjects more control over their personal data and unify data protection laws across the EU member states. GDPR replaced the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC, harmonizing data protection regulations and imposing stricter rules on organizations that process and control personal data.

There are six principles that GDPR is founded on when processing personal data. Those principles are:

a. Lawfulness, Fairness, and Transparency: Organizations must process personal data lawfully, fairly, and transparently. They must provide clear and accessible information to individuals about how their data will be used.

b. Purpose Limitation: Personal data should be collected for specified, explicit, and legitimate purposes and should not be processed in any way incompatible with these purposes.

c. Data Minimization: Organizations should only collect and retain the minimum personal data necessary for the intended purpose.

d. Accuracy: Personal data should be accurate and kept up-to-date. Organizations must take reasonable steps to rectify inaccurate data.

e. Storage Limitation: Personal data should be kept in a form that allows identification of individuals for no longer than necessary.

f. Integrity and Confidentiality: Organizations must implement appropriate security measures to protect personal data from unauthorized access, alteration, disclosure, or destruction.

A cornerstone of GDPR’s personal privacy protections is the rights it enumerates and protects for personal data. These rights afforded to EU data subjects to control the procession of their personal data are:

a. Right to Access: Individuals can request confirmation of whether their data is being processed and access to the data.

b. Right to Rectification: Individuals have the right to correct inaccurate or incomplete data.

c. Right to Erasure (Right to be Forgotten): Individuals can request the deletion of their personal data under specific circumstances.

d. Right to Restriction of Processing: Individuals can request the limitation of data processing in certain situations.

e. Right to Data Portability: Individuals have the right to receive their data in a structured, commonly used, and machine-readable format and transfer it to another data controller.

f. Right to Object: Individuals can object to the processing of their data for specific purposes, which includes direct marketing.

g. Right not to be Subject to Automated Decision-Making: Individuals have the right to avoid decisions based solely on automated processing, including profiling.

While GDPR is an EU regulation, its impact is global. Any organization that processes the personal data of EU citizens, regardless of their location, must comply with GDPR. This extraterritorial reach has forced businesses worldwide to adapt their data practices and prioritize data privacy and security.

Failure to comply with GDPR can result in severe penalties. Depending on the violation’s nature, fines can be up to €20 million or 4% of the company’s global annual turnover, whichever is higher. Additionally, non-compliant organizations may face reputational damage.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) represents a significant step forward in safeguarding the rights and privacy of individuals in the digital age. By adhering to its principles, organizations can build trust with their customers, ensure responsible data handling practices, and maintain compliance with global data protection standards. In order to ensure compliance, organizations may want to do routine Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA) to understand what risks their organization faces in the realm of data privacy.