commas-leftYou should see the GDPR as your chance to win greater trust through more transparency. It’s a chance to build your brand and reputation. And as recent events have shown, companies with poor data protection policy can quickly fall foul of public opinion. commas-right

A compendious guide to GDPR

Online privacy is big news right now. With the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandals breaking, keeping our data safe has never been more important. And one of the big initiatives to govern the way our online data is handled is the General Data Protection Regulation.

It’s being launched by the EU this month and is a formidable piece of legislation that has got everybody in the industry talking. However, as with almost everything that effects online privacy, there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation out there, which is why we have compiled this comprehensive guide to the GDPR.

If you run an online store, mobile platform, message board or any other kind of online presence that involves dealing with people’s data, then you’ll need to know all the following information. It could be paramount to the ongoing success and even legality of your business.

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What is the GDPR?

In essence, the GDPR is the first move to give genuine powers to regulatory bodies regarding online privacy. Up until now, most EU member states have had longstanding regulatory guidance around privacy but this has tended to be toothless. Essentially, it has been a Wild West town where the mayor and city council insisted that the law should be followed but there was no sheriff there to actually enforce it. The GDPR is the new lawman in town.

It will make sure that regulation is in place to force companies to ensure the highest level of personal privacy protection. And if they don’t, they will face potentially serious consequences in the form of large fines or worse.

The GDPR comes into force on 25 May and determines the way that personal data about EU citizens can be shared both within and outside of EU countries. Its main aim is to let people have control over what happens to their personal information or details stored by companies online. It also means that any person has the right to quickly delete or modify any information held about them online.

That means that any business – big or small, old or new – needs to know exactly what this means in practice. All online businesses will need to make changes to their service provision and ensure they are operating within the law. As the deadline of GDPR compliance looms, this is causing a fair amount of panic in the industry. So just what do you need to know?

What the GDPR means for your business

The actual text of the GDPR says: ‘The protection of natural persons in relation to the processing of personal data is a fundamental right.’ This means that the EU is favouring the rights of the consumer over the rights of business. In the past, this has been shown by policies such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, as well as the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data, known as the Data Protection Directive.

These have led indirectly to the GDPR, with the EU showing that it means business in terms of protecting its citizens’ consumer privacy. It is hoped that the GDPR will lead to a wider global law where companies can be fined up to 4% of their total revenue for non-compliance. That’s easily enough to put even large and successful companies out of business and shows that with the GDPR the lawmakers really mean business.

In fact, the details are already quite scary. Fines are up to €10 million or 2% of annual worldwide turnover for the previous year, whichever is higher, for any business that does not comply with the new GDPR. For companies that suffer a data breach where the personal data of EU citizens is accessed illegally, fines can be up to €20 million or 4%, whichever is higher.

Who does the GDPR apply to?

There seems to be a misapprehension that the GDPR only applies to businesses that operate in EU countries, and therefore only affects EU ecommerce operations. But this is wrong. The GDPR applies to anyone who handles the data, like email addresses, phone numbers or even name, of an EU citizen or resident. So, even if you are a US-based business, if you have clients or customers in the EU, the rules apply to you too.

That is why all businesses with online platforms are being encouraged to adapt their privacy policy to be in line with the new regulations.

The GDPR is designed to protect consumers in multiple ways, from providing clearer consumer rights to better security and special protections for children.

The benefits of the GDPR for your online business

It might seem like a lot of work, and with the deadline looming, it can be easy to panic. However, the GDPR is not all bad news by any means. Forbes has outlined the following benefits of GDPR, allowing businesses to:

  • Enhance cybersecurity
  • Increase marketing return on investment (ROI)
  • Boost audience loyalty and trust
  • Become the first to establish a new business culture
  • To find out who are their core customers
  • Organise their database

How to comply

The GDPR recognises that data collection is an essential part of any business, but that this information is extremely important. To be GDPR compliant you must ensure consumers can control, monitor, check and delete their information easily.

You must ensure there are processes in place to protect data, ensuring it remains encrypted and anonymous. Companies must also include means for consumers to safeguard their rights.

How to be prepared

To be ready for the deadline and ensure that you are prepared, Forbes recommends that you do some or all of the following:

  • Hire a data protection officer to specifically oversee your business’s data encryption and protection processes.
  • Audit your current security systems so that you can identify weaknesses and high-risk areas
  • Integrate marketing and IT departments so that they can work together to create effective strategies
  • Ask your development partner for services like no-disk transactions, multi-tiered data access platform and security control with SSL inspection
  • Have your technology partner train your staffs about the new guidelines.
  • Work with third-party suppliers and platforms who have done all the hard GDPR work for you

GDPR complaint software with Perception System

For your business to be GDPR ready, you need solutions for evaluating, planning and executing GDPR consistency. That’s where software tools and solutions come into the picture.

Here at Perception System, we are all set to help you with all your GDPR software requirements. With over 17 years of professional experience in the field, we are dedicated to providing you with a GDPR compliant website or application.

You shouldn’t see the GDPR as a burden but rather as your chance to win greater trust through more transparency. Working with us here at Perception System, this is a chance to build your brand and reputation.

Conclusion

The consumer backlash against companies that have overlooked our privacy, such as Facebook, has been swift and brutal, wiping tens of millions of dollars off their value in just a few days. Privacy is something people really care about, and this makes the GDPR something you can use to your advantage. Get in touch with Perception System to find out more.

by Tarang Vyas
Tarang Vyas, CTO at Perception System, a leading eCommerce Development Company, founded in 2001.

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