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General Data Protection Regulation – The countdown has begun

By Dan Teuton
6 July 2017

The GDPR will come into force shortly. So what should you be doing? There is much that you can do now to ensure timely compliance in your business, write Laura Trapnell, LLP partner, and Arezou Rezai, solicitor, of Paris Smith LLP.This is our 10-point plan for steps to take now – it is not intended to provide detailed guidance, but is to start you on your journey:

1  Awareness

The GDPR will impact on the way your business collects, processes and stores personal data. It is essential that you have the ‘buy in’ from key decision makers within the business. The first step is to ensure that the Board is fully briefed on the new law and will support any changes the business needs to make.

2  Audit 

The second step is fundamental – you need to document what personal data you hold, where it originates, why you hold it, for how long it is required and who you share it with. It is important to note if any data goes outside of the EEA.

We suggest that you separate each department within the business (as they may hold and process data in different ways) and allocate this task to department leaders.

3  Privacy notices and fair processing notices

Review and update your current privacy notices in line with the GDPR – individuals should be given more information about the data held, the purpose for which it is being processed, how long it will be held for and who else will see it. You must also inform individuals of their rights in regard to their data.

4  Awareness of the new rights for individuals

New rights called “Delete it, freeze it, correct it” are being introduced, allowing data subjects the right to delete, freeze and correct inaccurate data. Data portability rights are being introduced to allow data subjects the right to transfer data between controllers.

 5  Time frames for subject access requests

Previously, Subject Access Requests (SARs) required a 40-day response. Under the GDPR SARs must be responded to without undue delay and within one month. A further extension of two months is allowed if the request is complex. The current £10 fee will be abolished. However, where a request is “manifestly unfounded or excessive” employers may charge a “reasonable” fee, or may refuse to act on the request. This is a significant change and a refusal to act is not to be used lightly – such a refusal will require clear and justified, and fully documented, reasoning.

6  Consent

The GDPR sets out stricter, more detailed conditions for obtaining consent: the onus is on the business to show that consent has been given and that such consent is freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. Consent is not considered freely given if there is no genuine free choice.

At present, an individual has the right to withdraw consent at any time but the GDPR requires that he/she must specifically be informed of this right by the business. The principle is that it must be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it.

7  Data breaches and impact assessments

You should familiarise yourself with the ICO’s guidance on impact assessments as there will be a requirement to conduct them “regularly”. You should establish what the risks are to the business, how they can be minimised and when they are escalated by a change in business practice.

8  Data protection by design

Subject to both cost and technical practicalities, businesses should build in safeguards to comply with the new rules. Measures must be taken to minimise data collected, ensure it is processed ONLY for the specific purpose for which it was obtained; and ensure the data is retained for no longer than strictly necessary.


 9  Documentation

To demonstrate compliance, businesses should have comprehensive data protection policies for the internal handling of data; up-to-date employment contracts and privacy policies for staff and, where appropriate, the public; impact assessments and a SAR response. 

10  Data Protection Officers

Employees can be data protection officers but should be independent when reporting to the board. It will be compulsory to appoint a DPO where core activities involve large-scale processing of sensitive data or if you are a public body. It is advisable to appoint a DPO to take charge of the business’s compliance.

The GDPR represents the most important update to data protection legislation in a decade and it is important that you are ready.


Laura Trapnell

023 8048 2114

[email protected]


Arezou Rezai

023 8048 2330

[email protected]

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