How to Prepare for GDPR Compliance & Avoid Profit Loss
By Scuba Insights
When it comes to data security compliance, the stakes have never been higher. Aside from just protecting their data, companies need to stay on top of constantly evolving regulations. If not, they risk costly fines for compliance violations, and no single piece of legislation has evoked such a dreaded response as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
In 2021 alone, GDPR authorities issued over 1.2 billion euros in fines for violating EU data compliance regulations. A couple of record-setting penalties include Luxembourg’s 850 million euro fine against Amazon for mishandling personal data collection; and Ireland’s 250 million euro fine against WhatsApp for failing to inform users of which data was collected and with whom it would be shared. And in the last week alone, friction over the EU’s stringent data privacy laws came to a head after Meta announced it may pull Instagram and Facebook from Europe–based on data regulations they face.
Industries across the globe are experiencing a tectonic shift in the prioritization of data security, privacy, and transparency. These anxieties are especially evident in the United States, where some of the biggest companies in the world are struggling to adapt to the EU’s data privacy regulations–especially GDPR. Brands that haven’t gotten on board with these beefed-up compliance regulations may risk facing serious fines.
Read on to understand how data privacy compliance has evolved, and how best to avoid capsizing from fines and penalties.
A shift in prioritizing data privacy & protection
Since its enactment on May 25, 2018, GDPR become known as one of the toughest privacy and security laws in the world. Though the law was drafted by the EU, GDPR applies to any company that interacts with or utilizes data from those living within the European Union. The GDPR’s sheer complexity and scale make compliance a serious headache for transnational compliance teams across all industries—from e-commerce titans like Amazon to data analytics companies.
In 2020, the EU issued 332 fines for GDPR non-compliance. In 2021, that number rose to 709–a staggering 124.92% increase, most of which were levied directly at big tech companies. These fines are no slap on the wrist, either. When failure to comply with GDPR regulations can result in either a 20 million euro fine or 4% of a company's annual global revenue–whichever is larger–these penalties can seriously eat into a company’s profit margin.
What companies are getting fined on
As of February 2022, 1022 GDPR violations and subsequent fines have been issued by the EU. Here’s the breakdown of the top five most violated regulations:
- 34%: Insufficient legal basis for data processing
- 21%: Non-Compliance with data processing guidelines
- 20%: Insufficient organizational and technical measures to ensure information security
- 9%: Insufficient fulfillment of data subject's rights
- 8%: Lack of fulfillment of information obligations
Challenges in adopting GDPR rules and regulations
Although GDPR applies to data privacy within the EU, domestic companies should still take notice–especially if they intend on expanding their business to the EU. In today’s increasingly digital, global marketplace, avoiding data from European users is a near impossibility.
But, it may be easier said than done for brands to quickly and efficiently when adhering to GDPR regulations. Some obstacles they may face include:
- Complexity: In 2021, an RSM UK survey revealed that 30% of EU respondents did not feel confident their business was GDPR compliant. GDPR is a hulking behemoth of legislation with unprecedented extraterritorial reach. For companies that aren’t knowledgeable about data compliance, learning and adopting this intricate web of rules could be a difficult, time-consuming process.
- Ambiguous requirements: Much of the anxiety surrounding GDPR compliance regards the law’s intentionally obtuse language. For example, GDPR-compliant companies must provide a “reasonable level of protection” for personal data. However, the EU has not defined what a “reasonable level of protection” entails. This lack of clarity leaves many companies fumbling in the dark.
- Data transfers: GDPR compliance becomes particularly complex when regarding data transfers from the EU to the US, even for tech titans like Google.
- Company bandwidth: Not every company is equipped with the most robust security and IT teams to fully execute and ensure GDPR compliance. For those that are, staying abreast of constantly evolving legal definitions and updates can be a serious drain–especially if they have a limited budget.
- Lack of data privacy software: Data privacy compliance is synonymous with investment in data privacy software platforms. Companies lacking those platforms are at serious risk of GDPR non-compliance. Many brands rely on platforms like Google and Microsoft 365 to store and protect their data, but these platforms are by no means comprehensive and secure. If brands don’t have compliance and data privacy software or regulations in place, they’ll be facing some serious fines.
How brands can prepare for compliance & save money
Despite these challenges, there are still ways companies can prepare for GDPR compliance and avoid costly fines.
- Consider a technical solution: A major challenge brands face with privacy compliance is implementing a solution that has privacy built into its system. Compliance legislations, globally, are varied, complex, and tenuous to adhere to easily. But, a technical solution might be the future of how brands across the world handle privacy.
- Audit your processes: Auditing your data collection, storage, and processes is the first step toward becoming GDPR compliant. Ask yourself: what kind of user information does your company collect? How is it stored? Can your company easily pull up a user’s data record upon request? Is there sensitive data in play? These are just some of the questions companies need to ask themselves to know if they’re covering all the data compliance-based needed.
- Invest in a data protection officer: Hiring a data protection officer is a wise choice to demonstrate to GDPR authorities that your company takes compliance seriously. Even without GDPR, there has never been a greater need for cybersecurity personnel. Just last year, there were 1,291 recorded data breaches–a 17% increase from 2020. If you already have security personnel in mind, be mindful that they are part of all discussions GDPR-related, and will need the appropriate access, resources, and training.
- Get certified: Self-certification is a great way to demonstrate your company's commitment to compliance. Most companies that already conduct transatlantic data transfers are certified with Privacy Shield. But if your company is not, consider getting Privacy Shield certification or a comparable one such as SOC Type II.
- Review your third-party cookies: Cookies can get you in trouble, especially if third-party vendor tracking pulls data from EU users. Review your third-party cookies policies–such as enabling cookie consent to your users–to ensure they are compliant with GDPR.
- Invest in privacy analytics tools: Choosing an analytics and aggregation platform that prioritizes security and privacy, such as Scuba Analytics, will help protect your company against costly fines and the headache of staying GDPR compliant. Data analytics, from product to marketing, is an essential component of a brand’s success. Ensuring the data your brand handles–whether it’s customer or employee data–stays secure and private should be a core component of analytics tools.
Protect data & stay compliant with privacy-driven analytics, like Scuba
Scuba Analytics is a privacy-by-design customer intelligence analytics platform. Our robust security measures and certifications make Scuba an ideal privacy analytics solution for companies wishing to become GDPR compliant or to improve their data security in general.
- Privacy-by-design: Data privacy is Scuba’s priority. Scuba stores customer data behind company firewalls, giving you complete control of your data.
- Best-in-class infrastructure design and maintenance: Scuba offers rapid software and regular infrastructure updates for a more secure, robust, and reliable environment for your data, as well as an SRE team on-call.
- Compliance: In addition to being GDPR compliant, Scuba is SOC 2 Type 2 certified, IS0 27001 certified, IS0 27018 certified, and Privacy Shield certified.
Scuba gives companies a privacy-first analytics platform they need to secure stay compliant, protect data, and their data, and remain compliant. However, privacy isn’t the only feature Scuba excels at–we also give companies the power to further their data analytics and track customer journeys with real-time analytics.
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