Navigating GDPR Compliance: Guide for Small Businesses

GDPR is one of the most comprehensive but challenging regulatory roadmaps and compliance requirements that organizations will have to address in 2024.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a worldwide privacy regulation established by the European Union to regulate how organizations collect, manage, and secure personal information.

Data subjects have the right to choose how their Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is collected, used, and shared under this law, which took effect on May 25, 2018.

In this detailed article, we will examine GDPR’s essential components and how small businesses can ensure compliance to survive in the digital world.

GDPR For Small Businesses

There is no exception to the EU GDPR, regardless of the size of the company. Businesses that handle Personal Identifiable Information (PII) are required to comply with GDPR.

In accordance with GDPR, small business owners cannot collect an individual’s contact information via a business card, LinkedIn page, or general conversation without their permission.

It is, therefore, mandatory for small enterprises to be GDPR compliant and appoint a data protection officer (DPO) to handle any personal data they may collect.

However, most US-based small firms may be exempt from particular GDPR. Some small enterprises may be exempt from additional record-keeping requirements if they only handle the personal data of EU citizens occasionally.

Moreover, small businesses that provide products or services infrequently to EU customers can qualify for exemptions.

GDPR Compliance Requirements for Small Businesses

Companies must adhere to the GDPR regulations as stipulated by law. The most crucial prerequisites for small firms are as follows:

a. Collection and Processing

According to the GDPR, personal information must be gathered truthfully, legally, and securely. Article 6 mandates that data controllers and enterprises establish a legal basis for processing personal data, ranging from huge corporations to small firms employing less than 250 people.

A contract must be complied with; the data subject must provide their informed permission, or an organization’s legitimate interest that presents the least danger to the rights of data subjects must exist.

b. Consent 

According to Article 7, before processing, obtaining, storing, or using any data, all organizations are required to get the informed and voluntary permission of each data subject. 

c. Security

Articles 23, 30, and 32 mandate that companies use appropriate data protection measures to protect consumer privacy and data from loss or disclosure.

d. Data Breach Alert 

Controllers are required by Articles 33–34 to notify Supervisory Authorities of any data breaches within 72 hours. The specifics of the breach, including its nature and the approximate number of affected data subjects, must be included in this notification.

e. Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) 

GDPR-compliant businesses are required by Article 35 to do DPIAs on their operations in order to detect threats to consumer data. Moreover, in order to ensure continuous GDPR compliance, Article 37 mandates that small firms designate one or more Data Protection Officers.

6 Steps To Implement GDPR Compliance for Small Business

As we have a clear understanding of the requirements of GDPR, it is imperative to implement them in real-world business environments. The implementation process involves a series of steps that make it easy to implement and compliant with GDPR. Here are six steps you can take to comply with GDPR:

GDPR register

Image Source: GDPR Register

1: Develop an Action Plan to Implement Privacy Program

  • For small businesses, the first step in complying with GDPR is to evaluate their present privacy program.
  • Determine whether areas have previously complied with GDPR by doing a readiness assessment.
  • Then, the risk and data privacy problems can be evaluated by conducting a risk assessment, such as a Data Protection Impact Assessment.
  • These assessments lead to the development of a compliance action plan and provide protection against high-risk activities in the future.

2: Establish Processing Record

  • Identify and map the consumer data gathered to determine what was gathered and why.
  • According to GDPR Article 30, controllers and their representatives must maintain records of processing activities.
  • Additionally, companies need to audit their data and service providers to find out what data is gathered, how it is handled, how it flows, and which suppliers use it.
  • This action will help small businesses keep an updated.
  • Unified single source of truth for all processing processes involving personal data that the company stores. 

3: Provide Proof of Consent

  • Regarding consent, small businesses are concerned about demonstrating to authorities that proper permission has been requested and received.
  • As previously stated, enterprises must show that they have freely provided permission from data subjects via a clear and explicit request. 

So, while creating permission request forms, make sure they are readily accessible and understandable. Requests for permission should not be hidden in long contracts or terms of service but rather in a simple opt-in method that clearly identifies the request for consent. Furthermore, data subjects have the right to withdraw their permission at any time. Therefore, a consent request form should explain how they may do so in the same manner they provided consent.

So, while creating a consent request form, consider:

  • Review the procedure for obtaining permission and make sure it is compliant with GDPR.
  • Provide clear descriptions of permission requests in privacy rules and notifications.
  • Provide customers with specific consent options, such as communication frequency or medium.

4: Handle Data Subject Access Requests

  • Data Subject Access Requests (DSAR) will increase for small businesses once they receive sufficient authorization from their customers.
  • According to the GDPR, consumers have a number of fundamental rights.
  • That they can exercise at their discretion, including the right to access, correct, delete, and export data.
  • Any small business that collects consumers’ personal information must be prepared to handle these requests, whether they are submitted manually or automatically.

When submitting a data subject request, you must complete three stages.

  1. Making a request: A data subject must have the option of making a request manually or electronically in a standard way. Prepare a request form that collects the information needed to process the request so they don’t have to add a lot of details.
  2. Validation: One of the most difficult aspects of accepting data subject requests is determining who made the request. To guarantee that personal data is released to the correct people, take the time to check that the person making the request is the one who should get the information.
  3. Fulfillment: Once a request has been received and confirmed, provide the desired information within one month. However, if small enterprises get an excessive and complicated amount of requests, the GDPR allows them to extend their completion time to three months.

5: Address Vendor Risks

It is usual for a small firm to have several suppliers engaged in its operations and procedures. However, they may not be GDPR compliant. Article 28 of the GDPR compels organizations to enter into processing agreements between data controllers and processors to guarantee compliance with GDPR obligations. 

As the marketing, product development, and IT teams continue to review and collaborate with third-party vendors, ensure they all satisfy the same GDPR compliance standards. Take the time to compile a list of suppliers that receive data and determine if they are controllers or processors.

Once completed, small companies may create a strategy to guarantee that both parties are prepared for the GDPR. Businesses seeking to enhance their online presence while ensuring GDPR compliance should explore options for the best affordable web hosting service to provide the necessary security, reliability, and compliance features.

6: Data Breach Notification and Reporting

Lastly, the GDPR specifies how a breach of personal data should be reported and informed. A data breach is defined in Article 4 of the GDPR as “loss, alteration, unauthorized disclosure, or access to personal data as a result of a breach of security.” 

When this sort of breach happens, it is necessary to disclose it to regulatory authorities within 72 hours and inform the affected data subjects whose rights are jeopardized. At a minimum, small firms that suffer a data breach must include the following in their notification:

  • Describe the nature of the personal breach.
  • Provide the name and contact information of the DPO or other points of contact to acquire further information about the breach.
  • A description of the potential and probable repercussions of the personal data leak.
  • A description of the steps taken or intended to resolve the personal data breach, including efforts to minimize any negative consequences.

Final Words

Due to the urgency and importance of compliance, navigating GDPR is critical for small businesses. This guide emphasizes the importance of compliance irrespective of business size, outlining essential GDPR requirements and providing a six-step process for successful implementation.

These are determining performance requirements for privacy programs, maintaining processing records, managing consent correctly, and others based on these steps.

GDPR compliance is not just a legal obligation but an assurance of safeguarding trust and personal information. By adopting GDPR practices, small companies can save themselves from penalties and increase their credibility, besides ensuring a lasting future in the digital market business.

Compliance is an uninterrupted process that needs constant vigilance on regulatory changes and the emerging situations of privacy.

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