What is GDPR?

Meaning & Definition


GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It is a comprehensive data protection and privacy regulation that was introduced by the European Union (EU) in 2018. The GDPR replaced the Data Protection Directive of 1995 and is designed to harmonize data protection laws across the EU member states. It also provides more robust and consistent protection of individual’s personal data and privacy rights. The regulation has far-reaching implications for businesses and organizations that handle personal data, even if they are located outside the EU but process data of EU residents.

Key aspects of the GDPR include:

  • Personal Data

The GDPR defines personal data broadly, encompassing any information that can be used to identify an individual, including names, email addresses, IP addresses, and more.

  • Data Subject Rights

GDPR grants individuals specific rights, such as the right to access their data, the right to have their data erased (the “right to be forgotten”), the right to data portability, and the right to know when their data is breached.

  • Consent

Organizations must obtain explicit and freely given consent from individuals to process their personal data. Consent requests should be clear, easy to understand, and easily revocable.

  • Data Protection Officers (DPOs)

Some organizations are required to appoint a Data Protection Officer to oversee GDPR compliance.

  • Data Breach Notification

Organizations are obligated to report data breaches to the appropriate supervisory authority and, in certain cases, to the affected data subjects, within specific timeframes.

  • Accountability and Governance

Organizations must demonstrate compliance with GDPR through documented policies and procedures. They are also required to perform data protection impact assessments for high-risk data processing activities.

  • Data Transfer

The GDPR restricts the transfer of personal data outside the EU to countries that do not have adequate data protection regulations. This necessitates the use of mechanisms like Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) and the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield for such transfers.

  • Penalties

The GDPR includes severe penalties for non-compliance. Fines can be substantial, with organizations facing fines of up to €20 million or 4% of their global annual revenue, whichever is higher.

The GDPR was implemented to protect the privacy and data rights of individuals while also promoting the responsible and transparent handling of personal data by businesses and organizations. It has had a significant impact globally, as many organizations that deal with the personal data of EU residents have had to adapt their data handling and privacy practices to comply with the regulation. This has led to a heightened awareness of data privacy issues and a stronger emphasis on data protection in the digital age.

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