Data Protection - A Regulation Not to be Taken Lightly

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on May 25th, replacing the 1995 Data Protection Directive. Designed to give EU residents and citizens control over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business, the GDPR will be directly binding - it does not require governmental legislation.

Data protection is a touchy subject with some businesses because through negligence or ignorance, they fail to comply with it. It’s quite simple. Data protection relates to the safe handling of customer information. It’s an issue that has grown in importance with advances in technology increasing the channels of company/customer contact. The internet’s unstinting influence on every aspect of daily life means business communiques are no longer limited to postal letter or telephone. It’s led to transactions taking place by the billion every second of the day and night, filling cyberspace with unprecedented levels of personal data which it’s trusted the recipient company will store safely under virtual lock and key in perpetuity.

At Baumit, staff have a full understanding of the importance of upholding the highest data protection standards across all levels of the business. Are other businesses confident their employees are as conversant with the procedure, and that their customer information is being treated with the utmost confidentiality? I’m not so sure.

Adherence to data protection procedure applies to all commercial businesses - not just the constructions sector – large and small. Let’s say, for instance, a self-employed plumber leaves their vehicle unattended, but with a job card filled with customer details face-up on the dashboard in full view of passers-by. Hardly a heinous crime, you might think, but one worthy of a potentially hefty fine due to the data protection breach, however unwitting. And let’s face it, few breaches will be caused by anything more sinister than momentary error, yet the consequences can prove so costly for a business and its customers.

Businesses running any sort of Customer Relationship Management system should ensure it is running the latest software and back-up systems are in place in the event of malfunction and vital information being lost. It’s also good data protection practice to store all customer details in one easily identifiable system or programme with third party hosting. Corralling data in this way means it is less likely to scatter and fall into the wrong hands. It will also be easy to access, if a customer - as is their right - requests to view stored data relating to them.

Compliance with the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation for the safe collection of customer data should be a business’s number one priority, but the information can be used for perfectly acceptable commercial purposes. For instance, data can be assimilated to gain an understanding of client likes and dislikes, enabling companies to tailor product offers to their customers’ specific needs. In such cases, the customer and the business benefit from the existence of a bank of safely-stored data.

Ultimately, data protection regulations are designed to provide sanctuary for customer details vulnerable to exploitation in our info-saturated world. We trust that businesses worldwide are guarding that precious, personal information with more vigilance than ever before.