Reasons to choose Wilson Browne
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a term that you’ll have heard many times since these stringent privacy standards were introduced in 2018, regardless of your professional background.
This is because GDPR refers to the world’s strongest set of data protection rules, designed to protect data and privacy in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area.
Despite being applicable to just the EU and the European Economic Area, many organisations across the world abide by these data protection and privacy regulations as best practice.
To help you understand the importance of abiding by GDPR compliance requirements and how you can ensure that your organisation is following the rules, our expert team of business health check solicitors have created this comprehensive GDPR compliance checklist for UK companies.
Before we dive straight into this GDPR compliance checklist, however, we explore the meaning of GDPR compliance and why it’s so essential for business-owners to understand and abide by these GDPR regulations in more detail below.
What is GDPR compliance?
GDPR compliance simply means that an organisation meets the GDPR compliance requirements by correctly handling personal data and abiding by the relevant privacy laws. In the UK, the Data Protection Act 2018 has been implemented due to these GDPR regulations, it dictates how businesses, organisations, and the government use personal information.
Now, these organisations must not only protect personal data (information about their customers, staff, stakeholders, etc.), but they must also provide proof regarding how this data is protected. While all sectors of a business will be affected by this high consent standard, the marketing industry has been impacted the most.
When accessing a website, you’ll often be asked to accept ‘cookies’ (small pieces of data with unique identifiers that help a website to remember you and your preferences). This granting of consent helps customers to take back some control, giving them a choice as to which data these websites can access and how they can use it.
Why is it important to meet GDPR compliance requirements?
The GDPR regulations are built upon the key belief that businesses should be handling personal information properly, in terms of processing this data securely, efficiently, and ethically.
Regardless of whether you’re processing the personal information of clients, customers, staff, or suppliers, appropriately collecting, storing, and using this data is crucial to protecting and building your company’s reputation, instilling confidence in your professional connections, and saving your business both time and money.
Not to mention, if you’re found to be non-compliant with GDPR requirements, then you could receive a substantial fine of up to £18 million or 4% of your annual global turnover (depending on which figure is greater). The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is responsible for enforcing these standards.
GDPR compliance checklist
If you want to limit your vulnerability to GDPR non-compliance penalties, then it’s crucial that you follow a specific GDPR compliance checklist in the UK. Fortunately, the expert team of business health check solicitors at Wilson Browne have complied this thorough GDPR checklist for companies.
Our comprehensive checklist is designed to help you identify whether your current data protection and privacy policies are sufficient and improve them in the event that they aren’t compliant with GDPR regulations. Alternatively, why not give our expert team a call to do the hard work for you?
Luckily, the expert team of solicitors here at Wilson Browne can provide you with practical guidance, including a list of clear actions you can implement to help make your business GDPR compliant.
Undertake an audit
To kick off the process, you need to assess the type and degree of personal information that your company currently holds. With a helping hand from a thorough data inventory and data flow audit, you should be able to compose a list of the both the type of personal information your business collects and how you process this information.
The type of data processing this information is subject to (like automated marketing emails sent to a set client or customer list) should also be explored.
Personal data is any information that either directly identifies or could be used to identify an individual such as a home address, full name, or a cookie ID. This audit should also cover the analysis of the data retention policy which should explain how this personal information is sorted, stored, and deleted.
Appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO)
Following this audit, you should be at a point where you can determine whether your business legally requires a DPO. Public authorities who collect or store data are often required to appoint a DPO to handle and monitor internal GDPR compliance.
DPOs are especially necessary for companies that process a large quantity of personal data, this includes businesses like Google and Facebook. This DPO recommendation also applies if a company processes special data categories, such as those regarding race or ethnicity, for example.
Even if you’re not legally required to appoint a DPO, you may decide to take this step as a form of best practice.
A DPO should offer your business relevant information and advice regarding the company’s data protection obligations, including guidance surrounding Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) and liaising with the ICO to ensure GDPR compliance.
Understand your GDPR obligations
An essential step in our business health check service, it pays to familiarise yourself with your company’s GDPR obligations and responsibilities. This includes knowing how and when to report a data breach in the event that your business suffers from a security incident that leads to the loss of or unauthorised access to personal data.
Under article 33 of the GDPR regulations, data processors and data controllers must report these breaches to the ICO within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach. It’s crucial that companies understand the importance of reporting a data breach, as these steps can help affected individuals to protect themselves.
Furthermore, businesses should also make themselves familiar with the process of how to efficiently handle a Subject Access Request (SAR), also referred to as a Data Subject Access Request (DSAR), from a client or customer.
An SAR refers to a right of access request to a copy of any personal data that a company might hold about an individual they either work with or for.
Here at Wilson Browne Solicitors, we offer our clients a comprehensive business health check that can help you understand your company’s GDPR obligations. Our clear recommendations are based on both the size and the nature of your business, ensuring all our GDPR suggestions are tailored to deliver the best results.
Implement GDPR compliance mechanisms
Once you’ve identified the GDPR obligations for your company, you can move on to implementing mechanisms that can help you to fulfil these obligations. Often, businesses will implement digital GDPR compliance programmes to help monitor compliance and automate the protection of personal data.
With the right mechanisms in place to ensure this personal data is being properly protected, your company can build a more reliable reputation, helping you to secure larger or more valuable contracts.
For competitive marketplaces, a robust data protection system could be the deciding factor for a client choosing between two companies. Any existing GDPR policies should therefore undergo analysis to ensure they align with the latest GDPR requirements for your industry.
If they’re not adequate, these processes should be updated or you should consider developing new procedures that can help you to fulfil your legal obligations. Staff, customer, and supplier contracts may also require review and updating to ensure you’re compliant with your GDPR responsibilities.
Considering selling your business in the future? Suppling your company with the necessary data protection mechanisms can also signal to prospective buyers conducting their due diligence that the business has a history of GDPR compliance.
As a result, any individuals interested in purchasing the company are likely to feel reassured by this display of responsibility and legal compliance.
At Wilson Browne Solicitors, our business health check service includes a thorough review of the legal structures in place behind these compliance mechanisms to ensure the personal data of your customers is well-protected.
Invest in a secure IT system
Data breaches can occur for a variety of reasons including insider misuse, human error, and application vulnerabilities. However, many personal data breaches are caused by insecure IT systems that are particularly susceptible to email phishing attacks and malware.
These attacks are often targeted at successful companies, so they can be incredibly damaging to the reputation of the business and their customers or clients. It’s therefore essential that you have a secure, well-maintained IT system that can keep your personal data secure and limit the success of effect of a data breach.
If you don’t already have a secure IT system in place, it’s worth liaising with IT and security system professionals to find a suitable solution.
GDPR affects every area of a business, so staff awareness and education are both vital to helping your company abide by your GDPR compliance framework. Every individual (especially those involved in processing personal data) should be adequately trained in how to appropriately handle this data.
Training sessions regarding the basic GDPR principles and the various compliance procedures, policies, and mechanisms should be conducted to ensure staff are aware of the importance of abiding by GDPR regulations for the business.
Unlike some projects that end when they are completed, GDPR compliance is an ongoing process. Regular internal audits should be conducted to help spot inefficiencies, risks, and gaps that might require remediation. This will support the creation of a strong data protection process both now and in the future.
DPIAs should also be carried out where required to help minimise risk, especially for personal data processing that is likely to result in a high risk to individuals.
Schedule a GDPR business health check
Eager to receive a tailored GDPR compliance checklist for your company?
Here at Wilson Browne Solicitors, we offer our clients a wide range of business health check services. Crucial for ensuring your operations run smoothly, these health checks can include everything from shareholder agreements and rent arrears, to employment policies and, of course, GDPR and data protection services.
As UK legislation is revised and businesses evolve, you need a law firm that can support your company as it grows. Fortunately, our team of experienced solicitors can help you to abide by the latest GDPR compliance requirements, helping you to avoid severe fines and litigation.
To support businesses across the UK, we’ve opened several Wilson Browne offices, including branches in Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough, Higham Ferrers, Leicestershire, and Northamptonshire. Alternatively, we can always meet you at a more convenient location to discuss your specific GDPR requirements.
If you’d like to learn more about our team, services, or prices before paying us a visit, please feel free to contact us on 0800 088 6004 – the first chat is always free. You can also get in touch with our knowledgeable team of corporate and commercial solicitors by submitting your enquiry using our convenient online contact form.