Friday 21 July 2017

New European rules will sting unprepared small firms the hardest

Helen Dixon, Irish Data Protection Commissioner, speaking at the Data Summit at the Convention Centre in Dublin. Photo: Robbie Reynolds.
Helen Dixon, Irish Data Protection Commissioner, speaking at the Data Summit at the Convention Centre in Dublin. Photo: Robbie Reynolds.
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

You'd know the General Data Protection Regulation is less than a year off. With Europe's big regulatory stick getting closer and closer, big companies are really starting to get into gear. Nowhere is this more evident than Facebook, which has become a lightning rod in the EU for data protection issues.

The company has already felt the heat of European regulatory action in recent months, from small fines in France and Italy to an (unrelated) €110m penalty from Brussels over misleading information given around the WhatsApp acquisition.

Now, it is putting many of its top brains into developing systems that will comply with Europe's GDPR. This will include the hiring of a new data protection officer to be based in Dublin. It also includes continent-wide "design jam" developer conferences to come up with new ways to simplify how Facebook users can control their own data.

Companies like Facebook have most to lose, given that the new law allows regulators can fine them up to 4pc of annual turnover (which Ireland's Commissioner, Helen Dixon, has said she is ready to do).

But these big multinationals are getting their house in order.

The ones who might really feel the sting are smaller firms. Many SME owners still don't know what the GDPR is about or how it will affect them.

If they remain in that state of ignorance, it will cost them dearly.    

Irish Independent

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