The countdown has begun!   On 25th May 2018, the GDPR will be in force.  Regardless of a hard or soft Brexit, we will still be members of the European Union on 25 May 2018 and will therefore be bound by the changes being introduced with the implementation of the GDPR.  To mark the occasion, Vice-President Ansip and Commissioner Jourová are making a statement today:

“New EU-wide data protection standards have been adopted by the EU last year. Their success depends not only on Member States adapting national laws to the new rules, but also on the knowledge of citizens of their new rights, and on businesses in the EU to be ready once the new rules enter into force.

We have one year to work with all Member States and to engage with companies to make this happen. This work should be stepped up and reinforced to ensure harmonisation and avoid fragmentation in the implementation. Within the year we will also launch an EU-wide campaign to raise awareness so that Europeans are conscious of their rights.

A year from now, the European Union will start benefiting from the new data protection standards. As of May 2018, the new rules of the General Data Protection Regulation will enter into application and give a strong basis for the Digital Single Market to flourish.

The new rules will protect the EU citizens’ fundamental right to personal data protection. Everyone will benefit from new and clarified rights. For instance, you will have the right to know as soon as possible if your data has been hacked or disclosed. It will also be easier for citizens to complain and obtain compensation if they think their rights are not respected. No matter where your data is stored, you only need to contact your closest data protection authority. With sanctions of up to 4 percent of annual turnover, authorities will also be in a position to enforce the new rules.

Businesses will benefit from more legal certainty, with a single set of rules across the EU. Companies will only have to deal with one single supervisory authority – rather than 28 now. This will not only make things simpler, but also cheaper. SMEs benefit from exemptions to ensure that the rules are adapted to the needs and capacity of smaller firms. More generally, the data economy can enable business growth, modernise public services and empower citizens….”

The Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has warned businesses that there’s no time to delay in preparing for “the biggest change to data protection law for a generation”. In a YouTube video addressing boardrooms, Ms Denham says “If your organisation can’t demonstrate that good data protection is a cornerstone of your business policy and practices, you’re leaving your organisation open to enforcement action that can damage both public reputation and bank balance. But there’s a carrot here as well as a stick: get data protection right, and you can see a real business benefit.”

You can access our 12 Steps to take now and our information sheet on the incoming changes here and here.  If you would like a copy of our One Year and Counting… guide, then please contact me.