EU Data Protection

EU Data Protection Changes and its Implications

By on 29th April 2016

As most of you who have an interest in Data Protection know, in October 2015, the European Court of Justice passed a judgement declaring the EU-US Safe Harbor Agreement “invalid” (see more information here: The lack of “trust” following the NSA debacle in the US no doubt had an impact on the decision. However, with the exponential growth of the internet globally, more emphasis will be placed on data protection across more countries and regions to come.

This change effectively means that any transfer of personal data from the EU to the US must now adhere to much stricter protocols around compliance. In order for an EU based company to move any contacts outside of its borders, a contract needs to be drawn up and signed by the two parties declaring how they’ll be managing personal data. Inefficient to say the least.

This created huge issues in the SaaS industry, with personal data literally being moved around the world every millisecond. This affected:

  • HR systems (how employee details are being stored and managed)
  • Sales/CRM (how lead/prospect/customer information is stored and managed)
  • ERP systems (how customer data is stored and managed)
  • Banking systems (how customer data is stored and managed)
  • Marketing systems (how lead/prospect information is stored and managed)
  • And the list goes on…

There’s still a long way to go before a resolution is worked out. But the good news is that the first steps have been taken by the EU parliament in ratifying the new Data Protection Regulations, which are due to come into effect by July 2016. The key changes are:

  • A right to be forgotten
  • “Clear and affirmative consent” to the processing of private data by the person concerned
  • A right to transfer your data to another service provider
  • The right to know when your data has been hacked
  • Ensuring that privacy policies are explained in clear and understandable language
  • Stronger enforcement and fines up to 4% of firms’ total worldwide annual turnover, as a deterrent to breaking the rules.

Further details will be released soon, but for the most part many businesses will not be affected providing they already adhere to their obligations around personal data management. Here are a few quick pointers to ensure you’re being compliant – even if you aren’t handling any EU based contacts:

  • Do you have consent from the individual that you can actually store their contact information?
  • Does your privacy policy outline how you manage their contact details?
  • Is your team trained up on how to handle personal contact information?
  • If you’re a “data controller” (i.e. A telemarketing firm or marketing platform handling someone else’s contact database), that you ensure your team is aware of their obligation on keeping the personal data safe.
  • When running a digital marketing campaign, you ensure you have a one click unsubscribe embedded in every email (and you never email them again), along with contact details (i.e. Company name, address, phone, etc.) for the recipient to get in touch with you.

All these items should be common sense, but it always pays to have a refresher. It might also be an opportune time for you to perform an audit on your own data protection practices to ensure you are actually compliant.

Stay tuned for further updates leading up to the implementation of the new EU Data Protection Regulations.


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