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On May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force across the European Union. It replaced obsolete data protection rules, many of them written in the 1990s, that have failed to protect consumers in today’s tech landscape. 

Since then, the GDPR has become a buzzword in business and tech circles. Both small businesses and multinational conglomerates have transformed their systems to comply with the directive’s tough privacy and security standards. Failure to do so could result in tens of millions of euros in penalties, or worse.

Let’s dive deeper into understanding the GDPR and why it’s important today.

What is the GDPR?

The GDPR is a set of regulations implemented by the European Union to protect the privacy and personal data of its citizens. The GDPR went into effect on May 25, 2018, and applies to all organizations that handle the personal data of EU citizens, regardless of where the organization is located.

The GDPR replaces the previous data protection directive, which was implemented in 1995. The new regulations strengthen individual rights and impose stricter rules on companies that collect, process, and store personal data. Under the GDPR, individuals have the right to know what data is being collected about them, the right to have that data corrected or deleted, and the right to object to the use of their data for specific purposes.

Why do we have the GDPR?

The European Union realized early on the increasing importance of data in the digital age and the need to protect the privacy and rights of individuals. With the growth of the internet and technology, more and more personal data is being collected, processed, and shared by organizations, often without the knowledge or consent of the individuals involved. This has led to concerns about privacy, security, and the potential misuse of personal data.

The GDPR was designed to address these concerns by establishing a comprehensive set of rules and standards for the handling of personal data. It gives individuals greater control over their data and requires organizations to be transparent about what data they collect and how it is used. It also imposes stricter rules on the transfer of personal data outside of the EU.

The GDPR was influenced by a number of high-profile data breaches and privacy scandals, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the Snowden revelations, which highlighted the potential risks of unchecked data collection and processing. The GDPR was seen as a necessary response to these issues and an attempt to provide greater protection to individuals in the digital age.

The GDPR exists because EU member states recognize that personal data is a valuable and sensitive asset that needs to be protected in order to safeguard the privacy and rights of individuals. The GDPR aims to achieve this by establishing clear rules and standards for the handling of personal data and providing individuals with greater control over their data.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

Organizations that fail to comply with the regulation can face fines of up to 4% of their global annual revenue or €20 million, whichever is greater. This is a significant increase from previous data protection regulations, which had lower maximum fines. The amount of the penalty will depend on the specific circumstances of the violation, such as the severity of the infringement, the number of individuals affected, and the level of cooperation with the authorities.

In addition to financial penalties, non-compliant organizations may also face other sanctions, such as orders to stop processing data, suspension of data processing activities, or even criminal prosecution. These penalties can have serious consequences for a business’s reputation, customer trust, and financial stability.

The GDPR also allows individuals to bring legal action against organizations that violate their rights under the regulation. This can result in additional financial penalties, as well as damage to a business’s reputation and customer trust.

The penalties for non-compliance with the GDPR are designed to be a strong deterrent against violations of the regulation. Organizations that handle personal data must take the GDPR seriously and ensure that they are fully compliant with its requirements to avoid facing these penalties.

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