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Preparing for a new era in privacy regulation

In May 2018, a European privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is due to take effect. The GDPR imposes new rules on companies, government agencies, non-profits, and other organizations that offer goods and services to people in the European Union (EU), or that collect and analyze data tied to EU residents. The GDPR applies no matter where you are located.

Learn more about the upcoming changes by reviewing the frequently asked questions below.

When is the GDPR coming into effect?

The GDPR was approved and adopted by the EU Parliament in April 2016. The regulation will take effect after a two-year transition period and, unlike a Directive it does not require any enabling legislation to be passed by government; meaning it will be in force May 2018.


Who does the GDPR affect?
The GDPR not only applies to organisations located within the EU but it will also apply to organisations located outside of the EU if they offer goods or services to, or monitor the behaviour of, EU data subjects. It applies to all companies processing and holding the personal data of data subjects residing in the European Union, regardless of the company’s location.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?
Organizations can be fined up to 4% of annual global turnover for breaching GDPR or €20 Million. This is the maximum fine that can be imposed for the most serious infringements e.g. not having sufficient customer consent to process data or violating the core of Privacy by Design concepts.

In addition, the GDPR empowers consumers (and organisations acting on their behalf) to bring civil litigation against organisations that breach the GDPR.

Does the GDPR apply to my organisation?

The GDPR applies more broadly than might be apparent at first glance. Unlike privacy laws in some other jurisdictions, the GDPR is applicable to organizations of all sizes and all industries.

Specifically, the GDPR applies to:

• processing of anyone’s personal data, if the processing is done in the context of the activities of an organization established in the EU (regardless of where the processing takes place);

• processing of personal data of individuals who reside in the EU by an organization established outside the EU, where that processing relates to the offering of goods or services to those individuals or to the monitoring of their behavior

What constitutes personal data?
Any information related to a natural person or ‘Data Subject’, that can be used to directly or indirectly identify the person. It can be anything from a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or a computer IP address.

What is the difference between a data processor and a data controller?
A controller is the entity that determines the purposes, conditions and means of the processing of personal data, while the processor is an entity which processes personal data on behalf of the controller.

Do data processors need 'explicit' or 'unambiguous' data subject consent - and what is the difference?

The conditions for consent have been strengthened, as companies will no longer be able to utilise long illegible terms and conditions full of legalese, as the request for consent must be given in an intelligible and easily accessible form, with the purpose for data processing attached to that consent - meaning it must be unambiguous.

Consent must be clear and distinguishable from other matters and provided in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language. It must be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it. Explicit consent is required only for processing sensitive personal data - in this context, nothing short of opt in will suffice. However, for non-sensitive data, unambiguous consent will suffice.

Have a look at the GDPR overview file:

GDPR overview