GDPR Principles to Follow for Legal Compliance

gdpr key principles stay compliant general data protection regulation

You may have noticed that companies of all sizes have more checkboxes and pop-up warnings about cookies and the amount of data that’s collected on their websites?

That’s not an accident. That’s a direct result of GDPR. The General Data Protection Regulations were passed by the European Union in 2016 and went into effect on May 25, 2018.

They impacted how websites all over the world operate and collect data. There are GDPR key principles that you need to know to prevent a fine in 2023 and 2024.

What are those key principles of compliance? Keep reading to find out about data privacy regulations.

The Intent Behind GDPR

The place to begin thinking about GDPR is to consider the intent behind the law. The intent is to give European consumers more power over the data that’s collected about them.

Most people know that they are being tracked online, but they don’t know the extent. In the U.S. it is common for consumer data to be bought and sold like a common commodity.

Here’s an example. When you go for a walk and bring your phone with you, your phone is very likely to track your movements. You have an Android phone with Google Maps installed. Check out your timeline and you’ll see exactly how you spent your day and where you went.

The more people learned about data and privacy, the more they demanded someone do something about it. The European Union did with GDPR.

The reason why this is important to know is that you have to approach GDPR from the intent of allowing your site’s visitors to control how data is collected is used.

Do You Need to Follow GDPR?

One common question for webmasters outside of the EU is whether or not they have to abide by regulations set out by the EU.

It depends on your business and how you run your website. If you’re a restaurant that serves a small neighborhood somewhere in the U.S. and it’s clear on your site that you don’t serve Europe, then you don’t need to worry about it. Make the area you serve clear on your site.

Now, if you’re a restaurant that wants to target Europeans before they go on vacation in the U.S., then you should comply with the regulations.

What if you fall somewhere in the middle? You should get a legal opinion as to whether GDPR applies to you or not. The advantage of applying key GDPR principles to your website regardless is that your visitors are more likely to trust your site.

GDPR Key Principles

What do the GDPR regulations actually say? A lot, actually. The sweeping regulation is rather long. This is what you need to know about it.

What You Collect

The first key principle of GDPR is to be transparent of what data you collect. This includes IP addresses for tracking or advertising purposes or email addresses and geographic locations.

Why It’s Collected

You also have to clearly state why you’re collecting data and if you share that information with others.

For example, you collect someone’s email address for monthly newsletters, you can’t use their emails or another purpose. You can’t upload that list to create an ad campaign. You would need permission from each person to use their data outside of what you originally told them.

Where and How Data Is Stored

You also have to be clear has to where and how a person’s data is stored. If you have an internal database with account login information, that needs to be stated. If you have a third-party partner like a cloud provider store your data, you have to note that too.

The Right to Request and Delete Data

This is probably the most intimidating part of GDPR. Users have the right to request to see what identifiable information you have about them. They also have the right to delete it.

If you use third-party providers like Google for analytics or an email service provider, you can direct users to those third-party providers.

You want to follow these best practices to fulfill the requests of your site’s visitors.

Plain Language

Website owners were known for turning over the privacy policy over to attorneys to write. The data collection part of the privacy policy would be written in legalese.

Consumers would have to find a privacy policy and then decode the legalese to understand how data was being collected and stored.

GDPR changed that. Website owners now have to have privacy policies available and written in plain language.

Prove Compliance

It’s up to you to prove that you are complying with GDPR. It’s not enough to take someone through your email signup form.

You need to have solid documentation for each of the steps above. You may want to conduct a GDPR audit and go through all of the ways you collect information from your customers, how it’s stored, and how it’s used.

This documentation can save your business if your business ever comes into question for noncompliance.

Report Breaches

You have the responsibility to report any data breaches to people who are affected by the breach. It won’t be a pleasant thing to do, because you are likely to lose your customer’s trust.

Noncompliance Penalties

You may decide after looking at all of this that you are better off not complying and think that no one will notice. Rethink that perspective right now if you operate in the European Union.

Anyone can file a GDPR complaint with the EU, so it is really in your best interest to comply. The honeymoon period for compliance has passed, and more companies are getting hit with penalties.

Big companies like Google, British Airways, and Marriott have been targeted with fines.

Small businesses are getting hit with fines, too. They are reported less frequently.

Data Collection Is a Big Responsibility

You need to have a website and you need to collect data to improve your marketing efforts. With GDPR, you have a lot more responsibility to consider.

Remember, the GDPR key principles are all about giving consumers control over their data. If you communicate what you collect, why, and how it is stored, you are on your way to complying.

Want more tips for entrepreneurs? Check out the Web Development section of this site for more ways to use your site to get more business. Also visit the Law section to learn more about maintaining compliance.

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