Is this GDPR thing just Scaremongering?
When someone tells you that there are new regulations coming that could result in a fine of up to 4% of your global turnover – yes, turnover, not profit (even if it’s subject to a likely maximum of a mere €20 million) – you will probably want to do one of two things:
- You’ll take notice and learn as much as you can about how to ensure your business is bombproof
- You’ll adopt the position that nothing is happening that will affect you because you don’t process personal data anyway
If you fall into the first group you’re probably getting on top of things, but anyone falling into the second will probably not even bother to read this, which is such a shame – for them.
One aspect of GDPR that has caused confusion is what is classed as ‘personal data’, which we’ll examine in a moment, but first let’s lay a few worries to rest.
Changes to the Definition of ‘Processing’
Processing means the collection, collation, storage, retrieval, application and destruction of personal data. Despite minor differences in the wording used in the Data Protection Act and that used for the purposes of GDPR the meanings remain the same and compliance with one, as it stands, will mean compliance with the other.
It’s always important to remember, particularly when we’re almost all computer dependent, that personal data isn’t restricted to electronic data but includes anything which forms part of a data system. This means that your paper files should also fall under your scrutiny when you are considering your compliance position.
Sensitive Personal Data
Under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), sensitive personal data is regarded as
(a) the racial or ethnic origin of the data subject,
(b) his political opinions,
(c) his religious beliefs or other beliefs of a similar nature,
(d) whether he is a member of a trade union (within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992),
(e) his physical or mental health or condition,
(f) his sexual life,
(g) the commission or alleged commission by him of any offence, or
(h) any proceedings for any offence committed or alleged to have been committed by him, the disposal of such proceedings or the sentence of any court in such proceedings.
Most businesses will be unaffected in this regard, provided that they already comply with the DPA, but GDPR has been designed to reflect changes in the types of data being recorded and held by organisations and, in doing so, has included two new data types to be considered as sensitive:
- Genetic data
- Biometric data
S0 the part of GDPR which deals with ‘Processing’ (the term used in the legislation) sensitive personal data will probably only impact on only a small percentage of organisations.
GDPR means that the definition of personal data will now include information which can identify an individual.
However, there will be cause for concern amongst organisations that process any data that is designed to identify an individual by IP Address, software cookies, an identification number (think, for example, about mobile phone numbers) or any other online identifier or relating to identifying the location of an individual (as may be applied to augmented reality services, loyalty apps, loyalty cards and free wifi in public spaces).
Exceptions to Stringent Data Control
There are some exceptions when datasets can be pseudonymised (altered in such a way so as to protect the identity of an individual unless a decryption key is used), but the requirements for the security of the key are the same as those which would be required for the data were they not pseudonymised. On the upside, this does enable organisations which deal with large datasets to make those data accessible by members of staff – for example research teams – without those staff members having ready access to individual identifiers.
Whether you Welcome it or not
GDPR is a big topic and there are some who think that it will go away after Brexit, so they’ll only have to keep their heads below the parapet for a year and it will all be over.
That’s neither a practical nor advisable approach.
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