The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be enforced across the European Union and beyond from 25 May 2018. The requirements under the GDPR are broadly similar to the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) but they give additional weight to the rights of the subjects of any data collection, most obviously, in terms of penalties.

If you are already operating good risk management, including being transparent about your data collection and storage and ensuring that your clients consent to you collecting and recording your data, then GDPR is not likely to be very onerous. But it is worth checking the Lockton website, which has useful guidance on GDPR and what it means for you. You should also check the ICO website and our website for updates, because the precise requirements are likely to evolve over the coming months.

Preparing for the GDPR - 12 steps to take now

This checklist from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) highlights 12 steps you can take now to prepare for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will apply from 25 May 2018.

Many of the GDPR’s main concepts and principles are much the same as those in the current Data Protection Act (DPA), so if you are complying properly with the current law then most of your approach to compliance will remain valid under the GDPR and can be the starting point to build from. However, there are new elements and significant enhancements, so you will have to do some things for the first time and some things differently.

It is important to use this checklist and other Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) resources to work out the main differences between the current law and the GDPR. The ICO is producing new guidance and other tools to assist you, as well as contributing to guidance that the Article 29 Working Party is producing at the European level. These are all available via the ICO’s Overview of the General Data Protection Regulation. The ICO is also working closely with trade associations and bodies representing the various sectors – you should also work closely with these bodies to share knowledge about implementation in your sector.

It is essential to plan your approach to GDPR compliance now and to gain ‘buy in’ from key people in your organisation. You may need, for example, to put new procedures in place to deal with the GDPR’s new transparency and individuals’ rights provisions. In a large or complex business this could have significant budgetary, IT, personnel, governance and communications implications.

The GDPR places greater emphasis on the documentation that data controllers must keep to demonstrate their accountability. Compliance with all the areas listed in this document will require organisations to review their approach to governance and how they manage data protection as a corporate issue. One aspect of this might be to review the contracts and other arrangements you have in place when sharing data with other organisations.

Some parts of the GDPR will have more of an impact on some organisations than on others (for example, the provisions relating to profiling or children’s data), so it would be useful to map out which parts of the GDPR will have the greatest impact on your business model and give those areas due prominence in your planning process.

You should make sure that decision makers and key people in your organisation are aware that the law is changing to the GDPR. They need to appreciate the impact this is likely to have.

You should document what personal data you hold, where it came from and who you share it with. You may need to organise an information audit.

You should review your current privacy notices and put a plan in place for making any necessary changes in time for GDPR implementation.

You should check your procedures to ensure they cover all the rights individuals have, including how you would delete personal data or provide data electronically and in a commonly used format.

You should update your procedures and plan how you will handle requests within the new timescales and provide any additional information.

You should identify the lawful basis for your processing activity in the GDPR, document it and update your privacy notice to explain it.

You should review how you seek, record and manage consent and whether you need to make any changes. Refresh existing consents now if they don’t meet the GDPR standard.

You should start thinking now about whether you need to put systems in place to verify individuals’ ages and to obtain parental or guardian consent for any data processing activity.

You should make sure you have the right procedures in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach.

You should familiarise yourself now with the ICO’s code of practice on Privacy Impact Assessments as well as the latest guidance from the Article 29 Working Party, and work out how and when to implement them in your organisation.

You should designate someone to take responsibility for data protection compliance and assess where this role will sit within your organisation’s structure and governance arrangements. You should consider whether you are required to formally designate a Data Protection Officer.

If your organisation operates in more than one EU member state (ie you carry out cross-border processing), you should determine your lead data protection supervisory authority. Article 29 Working Party guidelines will help you do this.

Information from the Law Society

We're publishing a series of blogs from experts, including members of our Privacy Law Committee, about the key issues and considerations you should take into account.

Upcoming CPD & Training

Join Tim Musson, Convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s Privacy Law Committee and Director of Computer Law Training, as he covers the main obligations of GDPR to help you prepare for its arrival.