Have you ever wondered how much Google actually knows about you? Or how Facebook is able to pull so many of your recent searches into their ad content?

On May 25th, questions like these will have clearer answers.

Your personal data matters. Ensuring that your information isn’t used to promote ads or evoke spam is a legitimate concern. This is what sparked the European Union’s new data law – General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

What It Is

GDPR is the latest EU regulation that will require businesses to protect the private information of consumers residing in the 28 European member states. Restrictions will be in place for how individual data is collected, handled, and applied. It is an initiative to give all EU citizens control of their personal information and harmonize any previous protection regulations that preceded the GDPR.

Gone will be the days of attempting to read fine print, going through an extensive sign-up process, or wading through pages of legal text. With GDPR, EU consumers will have a better understanding of how their data is applied in organizations.

Therefore, companies will have to be more transparent than ever before. They will be required to relay how a consumer’s personal information will be used, and more importantly, why they need to use it.

If a data collector, such as a business or government agency, plans to use consumer data, it will be required to receive consent in a clear and accessible manner. Collectors will have to be specific and easily articulate what personal information they need.

Personal data includes a range of identifiers – names, photos, home addresses, IP addresses, emails, bank details, social media posts, and other unique information. Every consumer in the 28 EU member states will have the authority to dictate what data can be collected, correct any information that is misleading, and request to erase any data that lacks consent.

GDPR is designed to give the control of personal data back to the owner. Ultimately, it will help to establish a more transparent relationship between organizations and their EU consumers.

Who It Impacts

GDPR will have a significant impact on how businesses everywhere handle privacy and stay compliant.

It has a far-reaching impact for many organizations around the world. In fact, any organization that processes or holds personal information of EU residents will be affected by GDPR. The location of your organization does not change the regulation; if you do business with EU consumers, you must prepare for GDPR.

Many organizations will have to strategize to comply with GDPR. More specifically, large tech firms with massive user bases will go through a considerable transformation. Some have already acted on the data regulation. For instance, Facebook has recently announced new privacy tools that will comply with GDPR. With so many organizations involved, it’s important to implement a plan to comply with the new regulation.

How to Prepare

After two years of preparation and debate, it’s time to plan for the implementation of GDPR.

There will be large penalties for companies who break GDPR rules. In fact, organizations can be fined up to 4% of annual global turnover or $24.6 million – whichever is larger. Therefore, it is critical to prepare for this new EU initiative in order to avoid serious repercussions.

You can start by ensuring that any relevant person in your organization is aware of the rules and implications of GDPR. If there is a structure in place, there will be little room for error by any stakeholder involved. Also, be sure to review all contracts, policies and documents that contain private information. While this effort can be time-consuming, it is worthwhile to ensure that every piece of data is secure and compliant to avoid potential risk.

Conclusion

GDPR will change how organizations collect, process and use consumer data. Any organization that utilizes EU consumer information must comply with the new privacy legislation.

However, only 6% of firms are ready for GDPR.

It is crucial to prepare your organization with a clear compliance strategy. Furthermore, ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the new rules and regulations, as well as the major fines and penalties if breached.

With only a few weeks left, it is important to stay up-to-date with the rules of GDPR so that your organization is secure, transparent and compliant with the law.

GDPR will give control of private information back to the people who own it – EU consumers.

Is your organization ready for May 25th? Tell us about your thoughts on Twitter or LinkedIn!