It isn’t often that a law passed overseas impacts a broad range of American companies in a variety of industries. However, the General Data Protection Regulation serves as an exception to this general rule. The GDPR affects U.S. businesses that access personal data of individuals residing in the European Union. This law has a broad reach, as it impacts most U.S. businesses that access this data for virtually any reason. Compliance with this law is treated seriously by the E.U. and therefore needs to be taken seriously by U.S. businesses impacted by this regulation. Failure to achieve and maintain compliance will leave affected businesses vulnerable to a host of legal, financial, practical and public relations consequences.
The GDPR Affects Many U.S. Businesses
The GDPR was passed in the spring of 2016 but only went into effect in the spring of 2018. It was passed in an effort to protect the private data and electronic activity of E.U. residents. Since that time, all U.S. businesses affected by its provisions should have been consistently in compliance with this regulation. If your company is subject to its terms but you have not yet reached compliance, know that you are not alone. Numerous American small businesses in particular have avoided achieving compliance due to the time-intensive and cost-intensive nature of this process. However, it is important to come into compliance with the GDPR as soon as you can because failure to do so can cost you far more than your compliance efforts will.
In general, your company will benefit from speaking with an attorney about GDPR compliance requirements if you market goods or services to residents of the European Union. You will want to take similar action if your business accesses the personal electronic data or activity of any E.U. resident whatsoever. It is possible that your operations fall under a compliance-related exception, but given the broad reach of this regulation, chances are that your company will need to come into compliance. Failure to invest in this legal protection may cost your business substantial fines. You may even face legal action or have your company’s site rendered inaccessible in the European Union. Both the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times are examples of companies that had their sites temporarily blocked on the continent for GDPR noncompliance.
GDPR Compliance Considerations
The GDPR is a complex law, so it is important not to make assumptions about any and all steps you may or may not need to take in regards to compliance before speaking with an experienced attorney. With that said, if your business does market goods and services to the E.U. and/or accesses electronic data of E.U. residents, you will likely need to take steps to come into GDPR compliance. These steps will likely include ensuring that the subjects of your data processing efforts have given consent to have that data accessed by your company, putting data breach protocols into place, protecting the privacy of E.U. residents through various means, appointing a data protection officer to oversee your compliance efforts and providing certain parties with notifications in the event of a data breach.
In order to begin your company’s compliance efforts, you will need a sound understanding of the ways in which affected data is accessed, processed, transferred, stored and disposed of. This understanding should include knowledge pertaining to any offsite facilities where data might be stored and/or third parties involved in the access, processing, transfer, storage and/or disposal of affected data. Before speaking with an experienced compliance attorney, you will also benefit from understanding what kind of personal electronic data your company accesses, how it is accessed, if it is shared and how your businesses processes, stores and ultimately destroys it. All of this information is critical to determining what changes your business will need to embrace in order to come into GDPR compliance. Depending on the ways you already approach your data, you may need to make minor changes or you may need to make significant ones. In addition, you will need to speak with your attorney about the correct protocols you must follow in the event of a data breach. If your company is larger, you may also need to designate a compliance officer to oversee your transition and maintenance efforts.
Compliance Assistance Is Available
If you have questions or concerns about complying with the GDPR, please consider scheduling a consultation with LawTrades today. Our experienced compliance attorneys can walk you through each step of GDPR compliance matters as applied to your specific company. Our team prides itself on a thorough yet efficient and cost-effective approach. We would be more than happy to help your business achieve and maintain GDPR compliance and to protect your company’s interests as we work towards these goals. We look forward to speaking with you.