With the fifth anniversary of GDPR being tomorrow, Rebecca Harper, Head of Cybersecurity Analysis at ISMS.online reflects on the last five years, and what the future looks like for GDPR compliance.
Rebecca Harper, Head of Cybersecurity Analysis at ISMS.online, says:
“GDPR has undoubtedly brought about a significant change in how organizations collect, process, and protect personal data. It has given individuals more control over their data, established higher data protection standards across the EU, and influenced standards globally.
“Although the GDPR is an EU regulation, its extraterritorial reach has meant that many organizations worldwide had to comply with its provisions if they handled EU citizens’ data. This has sparked a global conversation about privacy and data protection, leading to increased awareness and improved data practices beyond the EU.
“The GDPR has also harmonized data protection laws across EU member states, replacing the previous patchwork of national regulations. This simplification has been hugely beneficial for privacy professionals and businesses, as it provides a unified framework and consistent standards for compliance. The benefits of such an approach are many; harmonizing more standards in this way would positively impact businesses, enforcement and understanding.
“The regulation has also increased awareness about data privacy among individuals and organizations. It has made companies more accountable for how they handle personal data and has given regulators more power to enforce compliance and impose fines for non-compliance.
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“While the GDPR imposes obligations on organizations, it also presents business opportunities. Compliance with the GDPR empowers organizations to enhance consumer trust and reputation and realize a competitive advantage, which is highly valuable for organizations looking to win business and drive revenues.
“However, while some high-profile penalties have been issued due to organizations failing to meet the requirements of GDPR, notably Meta’s record $1.3 billion fine today, the fines have been less frequent and smaller than anticipated. And some have even been reduced after appeal, which doesn’t send the strongest message to organizations to take data privacy seriously. This does beg the question of whether GDPR has been a toothless tiger in terms of enforcement.
“With the UK currently reviewing the Data Protection and Digital Information (No. 2) Bill, which would be a significant move away from GDPR, it will be interesting to see how the lack of harmonization with the EU will impact businesses and the level of complexity, such significantly different standards will have on companies operationally, financially, and competitively within the broader EU markets.”
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