News & Blog

Read the latest business news, blogs and thought leadership articles from our members, as well as updates on the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce's work in the city.

News & Blog

Your GDPR preparations must now look for weak links in operations

Posted: 16th April 2018

Businesses whose preparations for the new data protection rules centre on marketing and fund-raising could leave themselves exposed to breaches in other areas.

With much of the advice around the General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR) focusing on ensuring that marketing and HR practices are compliant with the new rules, we’re seeing many businesses and other types of organisations including charities and social enterprises make good progress on this. Many are auditing the data they hold on employees, volunteers and service users and are taking steps towards compliance.

 It’s not just marketing and HR

But organisations are still at risk of failing to comply with the new rules in respect of other data they hold – such as personal data relating to customers, clients, contractors, and other business contacts. This data will also need to be audited and acted upon before the GDPR takes effect on 25 May.

The difficulty with this other data – which lies outside the realm of HR and marketing – is that it’s likely to be spread across different departments or teams. Yet every organisation, however large or small, needs to review what information it holds on suppliers, contractors, customers and other contacts. Businesses need to consider where that data came from; how it is used; and how and where it is stored.

Organisations will also need to review their ‘lawful basis’ under the GDPR for holding and processing personal data and this should be made clear to the relevant individuals up-front.

For most companies, this will mean reviewing – and probably tweaking – contracts (especially any data sharing or data processing contracts), terms of business, and privacy notices.

Going beyond a data audit

The other issue many businesses and charities face is not having sufficient administrative processes in place to be able to deal with their increased obligations under the GDPR – for example, dealing with requests to view, update, move or delete data; and monitoring for breaches.

Again, since HR and marketing teams have been the focus of many organisations’ GDPR preparations to date, most are making good progress on developing pro forma responses to requests from individuals, and designing new processes for monitoring compliance with the new requirements for obtaining consent.

But compliance must be organisation-wide, reaching teams that may hold personal data in other contexts. Since these teams are less likely to systemise the way they process and hold personal data, they may not yet have audited their data or reviewed their administrative processes.

Updating your action plan

There’s much written about the GDPR, especially information about reviewing your marketing and HR procedures to prepare for the new rules. But there are three points you should keep in mind to ensure there are no weak links in your plans.

Firstly, you must be careful not to focus solely on data relating to donors, employees and volunteers and overlook personal data in other contexts, such as data relating to customers, clients, contractors, and other business contacts.

Secondly, much of the information around is excellent, but when looking at contracts, terms of business and privacy notices and ensuring these comply with the new rules, you’ll probably need to take advice tailored to your own arrangements.

Thirdly, 25 May is not just the starting-point for the new rules, it should also be viewed as an end-point – it’s the date for you to have all your preparations completed which means kicking off your new compliance arrangements as soon as possible.

Any organisation or charity that hasn’t already conducted a full audit of personal data it holds and processes and considered the administrative processes it has in place should do so now without delay.

You can also refer to this useful GDPR checklist for areas of your business which may need reviewed.


Nimarta Cheema

Solicitor, Corporate and Technology Group


Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
Read more here