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General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Contributor(s): Trea Lavery

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a directive that will update and unify data privacy laws across in the European Union. GDPR was approved by the EU Parliament on April 14, 2016 and goes into effect on May 25, 2018.

GDPR replaces the EU Data Protection Directive of 1995. The new directive focuses on keeping businesses more transparent and expanding the privacy rights of data subjects. Mandates in the General Data Protection Regulation apply to all data produced by EU citizens, whether or not the company collecting the data in question is located within the EU, as well as all people whose data is stored within the EU, whether or not they are actually EU citizens.

Under GDPR, companies may not store or use any person's personally identifiable information without express consent from that person. When a data breach has been detected, the company is required by the General Data Protection Regulation to notify all affected people and the supervising authority within 72 hours.

In addition, companies that conduct data processing or monitor data subjects on a large scale must appoint a data protection officer (DPO). The DPO is responsible for data governance, ensuring the company complies with GDRP. If a company does not comply with the GDPR when it becomes effective, legal consequences can include fines of up to 20 million euros or 4 percent of annual global turnover.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation, data subject rights include:

Right to be forgotten - data subjects can request personally identifiable data to be erased from a company's storage.

Right of access - data subjects can review the data that an organization has stored about them.

Right to object - data subjects can refuse permission for a company to use or process the subject's personal data.

Right to rectification - data subjects can expect inaccurate personal information to be corrected.

Right of portability - data subjects can access the personal data that a company has about them and transfer it.

Some critics have expressed concern about the United Kingdom's upcoming withdrawal from the EU and wonder whether this will affect the country's compliance with the GDPR. However, because companies in the U.K. often do business with customers or other organizations in EU member states, it is expected that businesses in the U.K. will still need to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation. 

This was last updated in June 2017

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There is some awkward syntax in this definition.  At the end of the first sentence where it reads:

 "...privacy laws across in the European Union."


It should read either:

"...privacy laws across the European Union."

or

"...privacy laws in the European Union."
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