The Internet has quickly become the way many of us conduct business, from emails to shopping, from sharing documents to banking, and more, and we often give out personal details when conducting online business without giving it a second thought. We have probably not even thought much about just how much information we’re giving out about ourselves, such as banking information, our contacts and addresses, what we put in social media posts…Even our IP addresses and frequented sites. All that information gets digitally stored, and can be easily gotten by other people.
Companies will tell us that they will only use the information with give them for their own ability to better serve us, and will promise that they won’t sell or give it other companies. But is it really true? The EU has given this issue some deep consideration, and has come up with a solution.
Earlier this year, it was announced that European data protection laws would be changing come May 2018, and those changes could very well end up impacting businesses. What exactly are these changes, though, and what will the new laws mean for your business?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is designed to permanently change the way that personal data is collected, stored, and used by giving EU and EEA citizens greater control over their personal data and giving them greater assurance that their information is being stored securely. The regulations will apply to all companies that sell to and store personal information of European citizens – including companies on other continents. There will be no distinction, either, between individuals in their private, public, or work roles, and that could impact B2B businesses, since everything there is about individuals sharing information with each other.
What impacts will the GDPR have on businesses? It will apply to all businesses and organisations in the EU, whether the data processing is done in the EU or not. Organisations not established in the EU will have to abide by the GDPR as well. Basically, if your business provides goods or services to EU citizens, the GDPR will apply to you, and if you work with personal data, you should have a data controller who is in compliance with the GDPR.
It will also have impacts on customer engagement. It will be harder to get customer consent, since the GDPR says that individuals must the right to withdraw at any time their consent to your having their information. It will have to be proven that the customer had agreed to a particular action; assumptions will not be allowed, and just providing an opt-in option won’t be enough, since to sign up for communications, they’ll have to fill out a form, tick a box, and then confirm it in an e-mail.
Overall, the changes will affect the management of marketing and sales activities. Business processes, applications, and forms will have to be reviewed to be compliant to the new rules. B2B practices of meeting customers at trade shows, exchanging business cards, and entering contact information to a mailing list later at the office will no longer be a viable practice, either. They’ll have to find new ways of gaining customer information.
May 2018 is coming up fast, so it’s best to start preparing now. Find out all you can about the changes, be sure all your decision makers are aware of that the changes are coming, figure out what you need to do to make yourself compliant, tighten any privacy policies, etc.
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