GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, is the leading international web security law. Though it is the European Union (EU) that passed and imposed this regulation, it affects website owners around the world.
The fluidity of the internet makes geographical boundaries irrelevant, which gives GDPR its global status. All websites, commercial or non-commercial, must adhere to certain laws and regulations depending on where they are and where the audience is.
On average, organizations lose a staggering $5.87 million due to compliance failure. Considering its impact on future revenue and reputation, the actual damage is even more. Understanding GDPR compliance is essential for all websites in 2022.
Fortunately, we now have GDPR compliance and privacy protection tools that ensure compliance. Nonetheless, anyone who runs a full-scale website should know what GDPR entails and its implications for websites.
How To Ensure GDPR Compliance On Your Website – 2022
Today we will go through the steps you need to take to ensure your website is GDPR compliant. As we already mentioned, failure to adhere to the regulations can be an expensive mistake on the part of companies. Read on to find simple and effective GDPR compliance steps.
1. Data Processor And Data Controller
The term data processor is very important in the context of GDPR compliance. To put it in simple words, any body or entity that handles personal data on behalf of another entity or body is called a data processor.
The data controller is the entity that hands over personal data to the data processor. Let’s take an example to better understand the definitions.
Let’s assume you run a SaaS company and have built a new product. As most SaaS startups do, you partner with a marketing firm to promote your product. You supply a database of email addresses to the marketing firm for them to send promotional emails.
In this example, the SaaS company is the data controller and the marketing firm is the data processor. Since you have given the email list to the marketing firm, you are in control of the data. The marketing firm, in turn, is the processor of the data in this case.
Why is this distinction important to understand? Because both the data controller and the processor must be GDPR compliant. Any entity that handles personal data needs to be GDPR compliant. Failing to do so will invite hefty fines.
The above example brings us to our first point – the importance of third-party partners.
2. Choose Third-party Entities With Caution
Most websites do not have a complete in-house team. They would often partner with third-party marketers, legal consultants, cyber security experts, and so on. As a website owner, this is a crucial step to be mindful of.
When you act as the data controller, the impact of GDPR non-compliance would be more on your business. While you can ensure compliance in your website and company, you cannot do the same for third parties.
Whenever you work with a third-party service provider, make sure they are also GDPR compliant. Otherwise, you would be paying for the negligence of someone else.
3. Data Protection Officer (DPO)
The job of a data protection officer (DPO) is to ensure compliance and oversee the processes that go into it. According to Article 37 of the GDPR, both data controllers and data processors must appoint a DPO.
However, there are some caveats.
The GDPR gives 3 conditions under which the appointment of a DPO is mandatory. If any of the following is true for your company, you would have to appoint a DPO:
- If a public authority processes the data
- If the data is monitored systematically after collection
- If massive amounts of data are processed
If you pay closer attention, you will notice the ambiguity in the last point. There is no clear definition of what constitutes massive amounts of data. This ambiguity can be a cause of many problems, especially for companies that handle bulk data.
To be safe from this threat, it is advisable to appoint a DPO anyway. However, it may not be a financially viable decision for all companies. That’s where SaaS tools for GDPR compliance come into play.
4. GDPR Compliance Tools
Tools like Osano offer a complete GDPR compliance framework for businesses and websites. These tools can also act as your GDPR representative, which is especially helpful if you do not have a DPO.
There are several benefits of using these SaaS tools to keep your website compliant. The first advantage is the automatic functioning of these tools. Since these are automated processes, no one needs to monitor everything 24/7. The ‘set and forget’ approach works fine with GDPR compliance tools.
The second advantage relates to cost. The cost of hiring a DPO would be significantly more than signing up for one of these services. For small to medium businesses, the role of a DPO is often redundant. With GDPR compliance SaaS tools, you can get more benefits despite spending less money.
That said, website owners must always be aware of what is happening on their website – the information is collected, how it is collected, how it is used, and so on. One such important factor is cookie laws.
5. Cookies And Cookie Laws
Cookies are everywhere on the internet. Whenever you open a new website, you may have come across a ‘cookie banner’ that asks for consent. The cookie banners are now ubiquitous only because of various cookie laws.
The cookie banners give the visitors the option of accepting or customizing cookies that the website stores. When you use a GDPR compliance tool, you get automatic cookie banners for all your web pages.
You can check out Osano.com for more detailed resources on cookie laws and privacy protection.
6. Report Data Breaches
Article 33 of GDPR makes it essential for both data controllers and data processors to report any data breach within 72 hours. However, the bigger issue here is the data breach itself.
Over the last decade, more than 100,000 records have become victims of data breaches. There are vast amounts of data that are now sold and bought illegally and unethically. However, it is the victim of the data breach that faces the most heat.
Any instance of a data breach damages the reputation of the victim company. Customers and visitors lose trust, and the management has to answer several difficult questions.
Tight cybersecurity policies and frameworks are the only way to stay protected from data breaches. As with compliance tools, there are several SaaS cybersecurity tools for businesses of all sizes and scales. It is essential to use these tools to keep both your website and customers/followers safe.
7. Be Transparent
More than anything else, the GDPR seeks to give privacy rights to visitors and customers instead of business owners. If you run a website, you should aim to do the same for your customers and followers.
At any data collection point, be unambiguous about what data you collect and why. Never collect data without consent, even if it’s basic information. It is illegal to collect any personal data without consent, no matter how trivial it may seem.
Forms are one of the easiest ways to collect information. It’s also simple to state clearly the purpose and method of data collection in forms.
Transparency is not a specific step. It is a general approach to building a website and/or a business. The more transparency you have, the more trust you will evoke. Shady data collection policies and practices can contrarily cause a lot of reputation damage.
8. Double Opt-in
Double opt-in for email lists require the recipient to confirm their consent twice before being added to the list. Signup forms require the first consent. A confirmation link is included in the email sent automatically after the user fills out the form in the second consent.
While double opt-in is not a requirement under GDPR, it gives you an added layer of protection. It also prevents careless confirmations and consent on the part of customers and visitors. If you want to full-proof GDPR compliance for your website, consider adding double opt-in.
9. Age Restrictions
In case EU citizens under the age of 16 are likely to engage with your website, you should incorporate an age verification process before collecting any data.
Only those who are at least 16 years old may process personal data under the GDPR. You must obtain parental permission to lawfully gather personal data from those under the age of eighteen. A distinct parental consent method is necessary if processing minor users’ personal data is necessary.
We hope this guide answers all your GDPR compliance questions.
To not lose sleep over GDPR compliance, it is recommended to sign up for an automated consent management platform right away.
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