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EU Data Protection Reforms: Why you can’t afford to ignore them

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Late last year I highlighted the EU Data Protection Regulation reforms due in early 2015. What was concerning was that nearly 75%* of organisations aren’t prepared for the changes and from my conversations with public sector firms I doubt that this figure has reduced. These reforms were due to come into force on 30th January but there’s been no sign of them yet. Even so I think it’s important that organisations are aware of what’s imminent for when they emerge.

The purpose of the reforms are to modernise EU Data Protection Regulation. Dating back to 1995, the original legislation didn’t take into account online data, which is now of course the most prevalent factor. Overall, the reforms will mean that EU citizens won’t have their personal data shared with anyone without their explicit consent. Organisations must be aware that, as part of an individual’s right to be forgotten, they may experience many requests and transfers of personal data, meaning that data will need to be kept in an easily and quickly transferable format.

The financial risks of failing to comply with the reforms are simply too high to ignore. In fact the current proposals would significantly increase the maximum fines that may be imposed on companies. The UK Data Protection Act can currently impose fines up to £500,000. However the European Commission's proposed fines are 2% of global turnover or €1 million if greater, for serious breaches of the regulation. Meanwhile the European Parliament is seeking regulation that will increase the maximum fines to 5% of global turnover, or €100 million if greater.

Total clarity on the reforms still remains to be seen as currently definitions are too wide for organisations to be clear on how to comply. In order for the reforms to work, sharper definitions must be made. As the transition on data protection may be a complex one, it’s important that our customers keep aware of what they need to do to be compliant.

*http://www.channelweb.co.uk/crn-uk/news/2374261/it-managers-ill-prepared-for-new-eu-data-regulation

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