It is no exaggeration to describe the incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as one of the most significant developments in the world of corporate data management to ever take place.
The new pan-European regulations, which will affect all EU nations including the UK, will introduce a host of changes to the current data protection legislation, creating new obligations for businesses that handle personal data and stringent penalties for those organisations that fail to meet the required standard.
With the GDPR enforcement date of May 25th 2018 fast approaching, many companies are still struggling to overhaul their data management policies to achieve compliance. However, with the use of tools such as Virtual College's Enable Audit software, this challenging process can be made considerably easier.
Designed to provide EU citizens with enhanced protection from data breaches and greater control over their own privacy, the GDPR rules will require companies to allow customers to withdraw consent for the use of personal data – and to erase that data if requested.
Businesses will also have to ask for specific consent when processing sensitive personal data, and to provide immediate notifications when breaches occur. Any companies found to be violating these rules can be fined up to four per cent of their annual global turnover, or €20 million (£17 million).
These rules represent the most significant shake-up of data protection legislation since 1995, and will apply to all companies processing the personal information of EU residents, regardless of where they are based. Since the UK government is in the process of enshrining the GDPR rules in British law, businesses should expect them to continue to apply, regardless of how the country's planned exit from the EU is handled.
Naturally these new regulations will have a significant impact on corporate data management, making it necessary for them to carry out a comprehensive audit of their databases to determine any changes that might be needed to achieve compliance.
This will require them to review not only the records they keep, but also to assess the current policies and processes they have in place from end to end, with board members and compliance, legal, IT, security and HR teams all involved. Once these findings have been reviewed and verified, an action plan will need to be put in place to address any non-compliant areas ahead of May 2018.
Moreover, it should be remembered that companies will also need to document any parties with whom data has been shared, as the GDPR rules make it necessary to notify partners of any inaccuracies in shared databases to allow them to update and correct their own records.
For companies that process large amounts of data or smaller businesses with limited capabilities, getting GDPR compliance right poses a significant challenge, particularly with the deadline ticking ever-closer.
In this context, Enable Audit can prove an invaluable investment, as this online auditing system can simplify and accelerate the deadline process considerably, allowing companies to make the changes on time and within regulatory guidelines.
Whether you are a business owner, a compliance officer or the designated data protection officer in your company, you can easily create risk assessments and grading criteria by team, department or company-wide, and generate detailed, comparative reports at the click of a button. Thanks to the browser-based interface, multiple users are able to log in and review reports, as well as submit information from any location as required. The online nature of the tool also means Enable Audit is always live and constantly updated, providing a comprehensive one-stop overview of the business's progress.
By putting aside the right amount of time and resources to get the auditing process right, organisations of any size can avoid the considerable costs that come with failing to achieve GDPR compliance, as well as making sure they earn the confidence and trust of their customers and business partners as trusted stewards of sensitive personal data.
Summary: The introduction of GDPR will change the way businesses manage their customers' personal data - and Virtual College's Enable Audit tool can make this process significantly easier.