Business Law & Compliance

Who is Responsible for Ensuring Compliance with GDPR?

Business Advice | 8 June 2023 | 1 year ago

Regardless of the type of business that you have and the industry that you work in, you need to know who is responsible for data protection in a company. Otherwise, you run the risk of fines and reputational damage, which can be hard to recover from. There is a lot of information out there about finding out who is responsible for ensuring compliance with data protection legislation, especially now that GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is in effect.

In this blog, we have taken a look at data protection in a company and we answer the question, what is GDPR compliance?

What is Meant by GDPR Compliance?

GDPR, which stands for General Data Protection Regulation, which is a comprehensive data protection law that was first implemented by the European Union (EU) in 2018. The UK adopted GDPR before it left the EU and, after Brexit, then swapped to its own version of GDPR called the UK GDPR. GDPR compliance in the UK refers to adhering to the regulations and requirements outlined in the UK GDPR. It is designed to protect the personal data of individuals and it governs how organisations collect, process, store and handle personal data. GDPR compliance is essential for organisations that have personal data of individuals, regardless of whether the organisation is based in the UK or operates from outside the UK but targets individuals within it.

There is a lot that goes into GDPR compliance, including the fact that businesses must have consent from individuals before collecting and processing their personal data. Businesses must also stick to the data protection principles outlined in the regulations, such as processing data lawfully, fairly and transparently. It’s important for businesses to ensure that data is accurate, kept secure and only retained for a limited period.

GDPR also gives individuals a lot of rights concerning their data, including the right to access their personal data, the right to rectify incorrect information and the right for data to be forgotten as per their request. Part of GDPR compliance is enabling individuals to exercise these rights. In the event of a personal data breach, businesses are required to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and affected individuals within a specific timeframe, otherwise penalties could be given.

Who is Responsible for My Business Complying?

Knowing who is responsible for data protection in a company is key, especially if you want to guarantee that you are doing everything correctly, and that regulations are being followed. This is where a Data Protection Officer (DPO) comes in. If you are a public authority of body, or if you carry out specific types of activities – such as large scale and regular monitoring of individuals, including tracking online behaviour, or if you process large amounts of data in special categories  – you will need to appoint a DPO to handle your GDPR compliance. Even if you aren’t required to appoint a DPO, you can choose to do so voluntarily, and many businesses do.

The role of a DPO is to help a business keep on top of GDPR compliance. This includes monitoring internal compliance, providing advice regarding Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) and keeping business owners up to date with their data protection obligations. A DPO will also act as liaison between data subjects – the individuals that the data is about – and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Your appointed DPO can be an existing employee or you could choose to bring someone in; sometimes, multiple organisations share the same DPO. A DPO must be independent and they must report to the highest management level. It’s important for a DPO to be knowledgeable about data protection and have adequate resources available to them.

What are the Consequences if I Don’t Comply?

If you do not comply with GDPR, you could face a variety of consequences, including financial penalties. The severity of the consequences depends on the nature, severity and extent of the data breach. However, all consequences are designed to have a negative impact on your business, and everything should be done to avoid being handed one. One of the most impactful consequences is a fine, as these can be costly, especially to smaller businesses with a limited budget and organisations with a large turnover. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has the power to impose fines for GDPR violations. The maximum fines can be up to £18 million or 4% of the annual global turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is higher.

It’s also important to note that not complying with GDPR could damage the reputation of your business, and this could be hard to build back up again. Failing to comply with GDPR could lead to negative publicity and reputational damage for your organisation. After all, how many customers are going to want to use a business that’s unable to keep data safe and secure? This can result in a loss of trust from customers, partners and stakeholders, which is likely to impact your business relationships, revenue and future prospects. Those affected by a GDPR violation may have the right to seek compensation for damages they have suffered. This can lead to legal actions and additional financial liabilities for your business, as well as further reputation damage along the way.

If you don’t comply with GDPR, you are at a higher risk of a data leak, which is unlikely to be looked upon favourably by customers. It could destroy the trust of individuals whose data you have and they may choose to stop using your services altogether, taking their business to your competitors. They could also exercise their right to be forgotten, or they could spread negative opinions about your business.

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