GDPR is Coming

Dane Meah
July 18, 2017


Earlier this year Australian Parliament enacted the Mandatory Disclosure: Privacy Amendment Act 2017, which comes into play from February 2018. This legislation is a huge leap forward in corporate responsibility for Cyber Security and keeping their customers confidential information safe, with the potential for stiff penalties for those that fail to notify correctly after a breach.

Just as Australian organisations were coming to terms with what this change may mean, the European Union announced revised Privacy legislation of their own, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR has been likened to the Australian Mandatory Disclosure legislation on steroids.

What is it and how does will it affect Australian organisations?

Who will it affect?

  • The GDPR will require organisations around the world that hold data belonging to individuals from within the European Union (EU) to provide a high level of protection and explicitly know where every ounce of data is stored.
  • Any Australian business with an establishment within the EU, offers goods and services in the EU or monitors the behaviour of individuals in the EU needs to comply.

What you need to know

  • The GDPR will have an explicit reach outside of the EU as mentioned above.
  • The GDPR applies to ‘personal data’, meaning any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person.
  • Nearly 90 percent of businesses in Asia Pacific know little or nothing about the EU’s upcoming regulation.
  • Organisations that fail to comply with the regulation requirements could be slapped with a fine of up to €20 million ($29 million AUD), or 4% of a company’s annual turnover  (whichever is higher).
  • Security incidents – companies are obliged to notify competent authorities for any significant data breaches, normally within 72 hours, even if the breach occurs at the level of a third-party processor.
  • The GDPR includes a new definition for consent of handling personal data, stating that it must be; freely given, specific, informed and given in a clear statement of affirmative action. Consent is not freely given if the individual has no genuine or free choice or is unable to refuse or withdraw consent at any time.
  • The GDPR also includes expanded rights for individuals i.e. the ‘right to be forgotten’. This gives individuals the right to require data controllers to delete their data in certain circumstances, including where the information is no longer necessary for the purpose it was collected for, or where the individual withdraws consent and there is no other legal ground for processing their data.
  • The legislation is currently due to come into effect from  25th May 2018.

What you need to do

  • Update company data compliance policies – companies will have to be able to show that they are data compliant e.g. through written policies or completing regular compliance audits. Any pre-existing privacy policies will also need to be amended to reflect these new legislative changes.
  • Maintain a register of processing activities – any company with 250+ employees or where processing of data is not incidental (e.g. processing medical info of employees) will have to maintain a register of processing activities.
  • Data Protection Officers – companies whose core activities consist of regular and systematically monitoring of data subjects or who process sensitive information will have to either appoint a Data Protection Officer or show that they have access to one. The main industries this will affect; social media companies, loyalty brand companies, online retail, search engines, healthcare providers, insurers and government departments who handle such data.
  • Evaluate contracts with processors – companies will have to review any contracts they have with processors such as external data centres, HR firms or IT providers, to ensure the contracts contain the correct provisions to be compliant.
  • Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) – any organisation that has any planned processing of personal data, which is likely to result in a high risk to the data subject, must complete a PIA before continuing. This high-risk activity could relate to the large-scale processing of sensitive data, systematic monitoring of a publicly accessible area or an extensive automated evaluation of personal aspects related to an individual.

There are a range of technical controls you should consider as part of a holistic data protection strategy, including:

  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP)  – detect and block accidental or malicious insider threat.
  • Data & Endpoint Encryption – Protect your data from unauthorised use at rest or in motion.
  • Security Incident & Event Management (SIEM) – Rapidly detect a cyber incident to prevent it from escalating to a breach with log and event correlation.
  • Next Generation Firewall  – Protect your network and data using modern gateway security.

Infotrust recommends that before additional investment is made, a comprehensive assessment should be undertaken to understand where and how your critical data is being stored. Ask us here for more information about our Assessment services.

You may also be interested in our previous blog post on the Mandatory Disclosure Act that will come into effect for Australia from February 2018. To read more click here.