General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced as a part of data protection reform across the European Union (EU). The GDPR is a new regulation that is applicable to all organizations whose business operation is in member states of the European Union. It also applies to those organizations operating outside of the EU but are selling goods and services to customers and enterprises in the EU. This basically means that all the major multinational companies in the world have to abide by the GDPR compliance. The guidelines are formulated to give EU citizens more control over their personal data. The data protection reform came into force in May 2016 and was mandatorily applicable from 25th May 2018. The type of data which is considered personal under the GDPR framework are name, photos, address, IP address, and other sensitive data (genetic data, biometric data, ethnic data, sexual orientation etc.)

Under Article 4 of GDPR, there are two types of data handlers, data processors and data controllers. A data controller is an individual, public authority, or any institution which determines the need and means of processing personal data. A data processor is an individual, public authority, or any institution which processes personal data on behalf of the controller. GDPR places more legal obligation on a processor to manage and maintain personal data and how they are being processed. The controller has to make sure that all the contracts with the processor are in compliance with GDPR. The key focus of GDPR is clarity in consent to use personal data, which basically means that now companies cannot use vague or complicated and confusing statements to take the consumer’s consent. On the contrary, there has to be total transparency when taking consent of any individual. The EU document for GDPR also lays down rules, making it mandatory for companies to notify the data protection authority about a data breach within 72 hours after becoming aware about it.

The impact of the GDPR framework is manifold. The regulation will impact each and every department of an organization, right from product development to human resource data, and sales & marketing. The regulation changes the way sales projection and sales targets are set. It will also change the way marketing and promotional activity are managed. Overall, the impact of GDPR on business is related to how companies process, store, and protect data of EU citizens. Storing personal data of EU citizens can only take place if the organization has proper consent. Therefore, going forward, companies have to streamline their business operations in such a way that it is compliant with GDPR reforms. With GDPR regulation now officially rolled out, global firms have spent huge amounts to ensure that they are compliant to the regulation. Companies have spent money on hiring lawyers and data protection consultants and technologies to assist them to comply with the complicated GDPR regulation. Companies are also modifying their products and services that they are currently offering in the market or are expected to launch in the coming years. Major technology companies like Microsoft Corporation, Facebook Inc., Google Inc., and Apple Inc. have already rolled out several features in their products that helps the user base to control their data. For instance, in January, 2018 Facebook Inc. said that it will remodify its privacy dashboard to make it more user-friendly. Similarly, Microsoft said that it will provide GDPR protection to all its customer across the globe. Though GDPR is expected to impact each and every industry, there are a few major industries most affected by GDPR namely, telecommunication, FinTech, social networking, and cloud computing.

GDPR is thus a major reform in the digital world and it is expected to influence countries in other major regions such as Asia Pacific to start modifying or introducing stricter rules for consumer data protection.

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