What is the GDPR?
The EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a pan-European data protection law, which superseded the EU’s 1995 Data Protection Directive and all member state law based on it, including the UK’s DPA 1998 (Data Protection Act 1998), on 25 May 2018.
The EU GDPR extends the data rights of individuals (data subjects) and places a range of new obligations on organisations that process EU residents’ personal data.
The UK DPA (Data Protection Act) 2018 modifies the EU GDPR by filling in the sections of the Regulation that were left to individual member states to interpret and implement.
It also applies a “broadly equivalent regime” – known as “the applied GDPR” – to certain types of processing that are outside the EU GDPR’s scope, including processing by public authorities, and sets out data processing regimes for law enforcement processing and intelligence processes.
The EU GDPR and DPA 2018 should therefore be read together.
Find out more about the DPA 2018
The GDPR will be enacted in UK law after Brexit under section 3 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.
Watch our 7-minute video for a comprehensive overview of the GDPR
Who does the EU GDPR apply to?
The EU GDPR applies to:
- EU organisations that collect, store or otherwise process the personal data of individuals residing in the EU, even if they’re not EU citizens.
- Organisations based outside the EU that offer goods or services to EU residents, monitor their behaviour, or process their personal data.
It distinguishes between ‘data controllers’ and ‘data processors’:
- A data controller is the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or any other body that determines how and why personal data is processed.
- A data processor is the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or any other body that processes personal data on behalf of the data controller.
Your compliance requirements differ depending on whether you are a controller or processor – or both.
Read our GDPR compliance checklist to find out how your organisation can become GDPR compliant
GDPR overview - What does the GDPR require you to do?
Click to expand some key changes introduced by the Regulation:
- Where the EU has designated a country as providing an adequate level of data protection;
- Through standard contractual clauses or binding corporate rules; or
- By complying with an approved certification mechanism, e.g. EU-US Privacy Shield.
(After Brexit, the UK will be classed as a third country and will have to rely on one of these mechanisms. See our page on UK data protection law and Brexit for more information.)
Many non-EU organisations that process EU residents’ personal data will also need to appoint an EU representative.
- Public authorities;
- Organisations involved in high-risk processing; and
- Organisations processing special categories of data.
A DPO has set tasks:
- Inform and advise the organisation of its obligations.
- Monitor compliance, including awareness raising, staff training and audits.
- Cooperate with data protection authorities and act as a contact point.
Find out more about the DPO role under the EU GDPR
What is personal data?
Personal data is any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (data subject). The GDPR places much stronger controls on the processing of special categories of personal data than the DPA 1998 did. The inclusion of genetic and biometric data is new.
- Email address
- IP address
- Location data
- Online behaviour (cookies)
- Profiling and analytics data
Special categories of personal data
- Political opinions
- Trade union membership
- Sexual orientation
- Health information
- Biometric data
- Genetic data
GDPR: What’s the difference between personal data and sensitive data?
Read our blog,
How will Brexit affect the GDPR?
The GDPR, like all EU regulations, applies directly in the UK with all the authority of a domestic law.
When the UK leaves the EU, the EU GDPR will no longer directly apply. However, its requirements will still be part of UK law and UK organisations that process EU residents’ personal data will need to make changes to their business processes in order to continue complying.
Find out what will happen to data protection law in the UK after Brexit >>
Infringements of the GDPR can result in fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover – whichever is greater.
Learn more about GDPR enforcement and penalties >>
The benefits of GDPR compliance
There are great advantages to EU GDPR compliance. The new law promotes greater transparency and accountability and aims to increase public trust by giving individuals more control over their data. By getting data protection right, organisations will enhance their reputation, and build better, trusted relationships with existing and potential customers.
The business benefits of the EU GDPR include:
- Build customer trust
- Improve brand image and reputation
- Improve data governance
- Improve information security
- Improve competitive advantage
Read our GDPR compliance checklist to find out how your organisation can become GDPR compliant >>
How IT Governance can help you comply with the EU GDPR
IT Governance, a leading global provider of IT governance, risk management and compliance solutions, is at the forefront of helping organisations address the challenges of EU GDPR compliance.
Whatever your needs, from mapping your organisation's data flow to carrying out a GDPR compliance audit, we have a wide range of products that can help you meet your GDPR objectives.