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In our interconnected world, where personal data is a valuable commodity, safeguarding privacy has become a paramount concern. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a comprehensive framework established by the European Union (EU) to protect the rights and privacy of individuals. Whether you are a small business owner or a multinational corporation, understanding and implementing GDPR policies is crucial for compliance and maintaining trust with your users. For many small companies it is difficult to know where to focus your attention to comply with GDPR.

As a business owner you need to begin with a document that outlines how your organization collects, processes, stores, and protects personal data. It should also detail the legal basis for processing, data retention periods, and procedures for handling data breaches.

Policies You’ll Need

Privacy Policy: The cornerstone of all GDPR compliance is a strong, clear, accurate privacy policy. It should inform individuals about the types of data collected, the purpose of processing, and their rights regarding their personal information. Ensure that your Privacy Policy is easily accessible on your website or platform. When drafting your policy you will need include any requirement specific to the state where your business operates.

• All privacy policies should include:

• The type of information your company collects

• How your company will use/share that information

• How your company transfers information

• How your company retain information

• The users* rights to view, amend, and delete information

Data Breach Response Plan: In the event of a data breach, time is of the essence. A well-defined Data Breach Response Plan should be in place, outlining the steps your organization will take to identify, assess, and mitigate the impact of a breach. You must also have a communication strategy for notifying affected clients, individuals and relevant authorities. In some cases, your contracts or master service agreements may govern the amount of time you have to notify your clients.

Affirmative Consent Data Disclosure Documents GDPR requires that users actively consent to the collection and use of their data. Wherever you collect data you’ll need to create a description of how the users data will be used. Data may not be used for any purpose other than those outlined in this agreement. Active consent is either a check box or signature agreeing to the use of the data.

Data Processing Agreements: If your organization processes personal data on behalf of others (e.g., using third-party services), it is essential to have Data Processing Agreements in place. These agreements establish the terms and conditions for the processing of personal data and outline the responsibilities of each party to ensure GDPR compliance.

Retention and Destruction Policy GDPR has requirements for what kind of data you may retain and how long you can retain it. In all cases data must be stored securely. Data should also only be available to those who have a business need for access. For example, if I need to contact a speaker for an event, I have a reason to have their contact information, however I do not need their wire transfer information or their social security number. This means that data may need to be segregated on a “need-to-know” basis.

Acceptable Use Policy This policy governs how employees use their computers and access the internet. It determines how your company protects access to devices and data. This policy should cover both physical and digital security measures. Depending on the complexity of your work environment you may also need a security policy which outlines access to physical spaces and how paper records are secured.

Human error is a common factor in data breaches. Ensure that your employees are well-informed about GDPR regulations and their role in protecting personal data. Regular training sessions and awareness programs can significantly contribute to a culture of compliance within your organization.

Achieving GDPR compliance is not a one-time task but an ongoing commitment to protecting the privacy and rights of individuals. By implementing and consistently updating these essential policies, your organization can navigate the complex regulatory landscape and foster a relationship of trust with your users and clients. Remember, GDPR compliance is not just a legal obligation; it’s a demonstration of your commitment to ethical and responsible data handling practices.

*GDPR refers to individual users as “Data Subjects.”

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Author Stephanie Miller

Stephanie Miller is the Director of Business Operations & Compliance at Cadence Communications and Research. Prior to working at Cadence, she worked at Amgen, Toyota, Warner Brothers, and Disney. She is a Six Sigma Green Belt, and has a certificate in Toyota Production Management. She graduated from UC Davis and did additional studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

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