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What is GDPR and what does it mean for consumers?

By Izzy Lyons, Press Association
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What is GDPR and what does it mean for consumers?

The General Data Protection Regulation comes into force on May 25.

As Europe prepares to make way for the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) next week, how will it actually impact consumers?

– What is GDPR?

Coming into force on May 25, the General Data Protection Regulation has been designed to give everyday consumers a greater say on how, and if, their personal data is used.

The EU-wide law, which replaces the UK’s 1984 Data Protection Act, will involve new powers that require firms to get clear consent from users before taking their data and detail the exact purpose it will be used for.

– What is “personal data”?

This is any information that could be used to identify an individual online, including names, bank details, posts on Facebook or other social networking sites, images and medical information.

Under the new regulations, users will have the right to know what exact details a company holds about them – as well as requesting the information is deleted if desired.

– Am I likely to be affected?

Yes. Whether you own a business, run a charity, or have signed up to newsletters via social media or online shopping websites, the GDPR is likely to impact us all.

The Act will give individuals easier access to the information that organisations hold about them – free of charge.

Currently, there’s a £10 fee for a Subject Access Request (SAR), which businesses and public bodies can charge in order to release any personal information. However, the GDPR means this will be scrapped and requests for personal information can be made free-of-charge and must be released within one month.

– What happens if I ignore it?

Everyday users have to do very little to comply with GDPR – it’s more targeted at big online businesses.

Many people will have already noticed emails from organisations asking whether they still want to be on the receiving end of their mailing list and other information. If you don’t reply stating yes, many companies will assume you don’t and remove you from their database.

– What are the punishments? 

Businesses that fail to comply with the GDPR could face big penalties, including a fine equivalent to 2% of annual global turnover. Fines can even reach up to 20 million euro (£17.5 million) for bigger companies who make significant errors.

If a business has a security breach in the UK, then they have to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office within 72 hours.

– Will Brexit impact it?

Whilst GDPR is an EU law, the UK will still have much the same regulation when it eventually leaves.

This is because the UK is implementing the Data Protection Bill, which includes most of the provisions included in the GDPR. Whilst there are some minor differences, the UK’s Data Protection Bill will be largely the same.

The Data Protection Bill is currently completing its journey through the Houses of Parliament.