Many have heard tidbits about the acronym ‘GDPR,’ but do not understand the regulation or feel that it doesn’t apply to their organization since it is a European Union law. Surprisingly, even without locations or affiliations in the EU, companies here in the United States may be subject to hefty fines for noncompliance.

In addition to the risk of damaging reputation, non-compliance with the GDPR may have significant financial consequences. Data protection supervisory authorities may impose administrative fines of up to € 20 million or 4 % of the total global turnover. This should cause concern and make GDPR compliance the utmost importance for organizational leadership.

Where does it apply and what is the impact?

The General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), put into place by the European Union on May 25, 2018, is designed to ensure that organizations are adequately protecting the privacy rights of individuals concerning the processing of personal data. It is the most significant change in data privacy in the EU in more than 20 years.

The GDPR applies to all organizations that have an establishment in the EU, but also, it marks a significant expansion of the territorial scope of the EU data protection regime. This extra-territorial reach is triggered if companies meet one or more of the following conditions:

  • Goods and services are offered to EU Citizens

  • The behavior of EU citizens is monitored (e.g., by using cookies on websites)

  • Personal Data is processed in the context of an establishment (e.g., an affiliate) in the EU

How do companies demonstrate compliance with GDPR?

The GDPR sets out seven major principles that all organizations are required to comply with when they process personal data:

Lawfulness, Fairness, and Transparency
There must be a legal justification for processing personal data and the reason for processing must be transparent to the data subject.

Purpose Limitation
Personal data must be collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes, and not further processed in a way incompatible with those purposes.

Data Minimization
All personal data collected must be limited to what is necessary in connection with our purpose for collecting it.

Personal data must be accurate, and where necessary, be kept up to date.

Storage Limitation
Personal data must be kept in a form that permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data is processed.

Integrity and Confidentiality
Personal data must be processed in a way that ensures appropriate security of personal data.

The controller shall be responsible for, and be able to demonstrate, compliance with the principles.

Accountability is one of the most important new requirements under the GDPR. It means that the organization must show that it can comply with GDPR. Companies must be able to demonstrate compliance to meet the accountability requirement, which includes:

  • Appointing a data protection officer or local representative, where necessary.

  • Completing and maintaining records of data processing activities.

  • Assessing the appropriate level of data security and implementing appropriate technical and organizational security measures.

  • Implementing data protection by design and by default and documenting the measures taken. Carrying out data protection impact assessments, where necessary.

It’s about protecting the data privacy rights of individuals!

GDPR defines “data subjects” as “identified or identifiable natural person[s].” In other words, EU citizens that maybe employees, customers, suppliers, or others from whom or about whom companies collect information in connection with business and or operations.

Right to Information
Data subjects have the right to be informed about the collection and use of their personal data.

Right of Access
If processing personal data of a data subjects, they have the right to access this information and obtain a copy.

Right of Rectification
Data subjects are entitled to have their personal data rectified if it is inaccurate or incomplete.

Right of Erasure
Enables data subjects to request that data is deleted or permanently removed, including from back-up systems.

Right to Restrict Processing
Data subjects may request that companies restrict the processing of their personal data.

Right of Data Portability
Data subject may submit a request to receive their personal data in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format or instruct that their personal data is transmitted directly to another data controller.

Right to Object
Data subject have the right to object to processing of their Personal Data.

Automated Decision Making (including profiling)
The purpose of this right is to provide safeguards for Data Subjects against the risk that a potentially damaging decision is taken without human intervention

Withdrawal of Consent
Data subjects must be allowed to withdraw any consent given (e.g. consent to receive marketing email, etc.) at any time without penalty.

Organizations should have procedures in place to respond to Data Subject Requests (DSR) regarding the rights mentioned above. The legal basis, processing data, or other factors will dictate how your organization responds to a DSR, so it is essential to consult with legal professionals that have expertise regarding the GDPR.

Where do you go from here?

Partnering with legal professionals, Sparkhound uses a Plan, Build, Run approach to assist organizations with GDPR compliance.

plan build run GDPR

We hope that this blog creates conversation within your organization about the GDPR. If you think the regulation applies and you have questions about your compliance, please contact us to discuss your strategy.

Information and material in our blog posts are provided "as is" with no warranties either expressed or implied. Each post is an individual expression of our Sparkies. Should you identify any such content that is harmful, malicious, sensitive or unnecessary, please contact

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