GDPR update: 1 Year Later

One of the most significant data privacy laws enacted, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), brought substantial changes for organizations which are located in the EU or process the personal data of individuals residing in the EU.  In light of the one year “anniversary” of the GDPR, which came into force a year ago on May 25, 2018. Here is a short overview of the current global data privacy law climate and noted some upcoming changes and trends that may impact businesses internationally.

 

1) Europe – The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR):

  • The GDPR was designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe and give greater rights to individuals residing in the EU in terms of their personal data.  Last year, businesses around the world scrambled to comply with the GDPR, in part due to fines for non-compliance.  While the expected fines have generally yet to materialize (the largest fine for violating the GDPR was issued by France’s regulatory agency against Google for 50 million Euros earlier this year), industry experts note that enforcement of the GDPR is just getting started.  The process of investigating violations and issuing fines can take time, and many EU member states are reportedly struggling to staff their regulatory offices.
  • The GDPR requires certain businesses to appoint a data protection officer, a role new to many organizations, and includes data breach reporting guidelines.  As a result, the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) reports that over 500,000 organizations have registered data privacy officers in the past year, shedding light on the rapid growth of the privacy profession due largely in part to the GDPR.  Additionally, according to the European Data Protection Board, over 65,000 data breach notifications have been initiated by businesses as a result of the GDPR.  Businesses generally appear to be using the GDPR’s framework to update their data privacy policies and procedures, and to be cooperating with regulators.
  • The GDPR launched a dialogue about data privacy laws around the world, causing countries such as Brazil, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Australia to pass or propose new legislation, or consider changes to existing laws, that would bring their privacy regulations into closer alignment with the GDPR.

2) The United States – The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) & Other State Laws:

  • Currently, the United States has no federal data privacy law as large in scope as the GDPR, but rather a patchwork of state data privacy laws.  Many businesses that were required to comply with the GDPR will also need to comply with the CCPA, California’s new data privacy law, which will come into effect on January 1, 2020.
    • The CCPA applies to businesses that receive personal data from California residents and exceed one of these three thresholds: (1) annual gross revenues of $25 million; (2) obtains personal information of 50,000 or more California residents, households, or devices annually; or (3) makes 50% or more of its annual revenue from selling California residents’ personal information.
  • The CCPA is a broad privacy law that expands the definition of “personal information,” and grants additional rights and protections to California residents regarding the use of their personal information by covered businesses.  California residents will be able to request that businesses provide them with information about how their individual personal information is being used, and may request that businesses stop selling their personal information.
  • Covered businesses should ensure that their websites and privacy policies are compliant with the new requirements of the CCPA.  It is important to note that just because a business is GDPR compliant, does not mean it will be CCPA compliant.
  • Other states in the U.S. are considering legislation that closely mirrors the CCPA and the GDPR, showing a trend for laws which expand the privacy rights of consumers.  Changes to the CCPA are still occurring – for example, a California bill that would have added a sweeping and unrestricted private right of action for any violation of the CCPA died in an appropriations committee earlier this month.  Also, lobbyists across various industries have been asking Congress to pass a federal data privacy law, which would preempt the new law in California and other states that are trying to follow suit, stating that the patchwork of laws in the U.S. will be too difficult for businesses to follow.

Based on the above, we anticipate that new data privacy laws and changes to existing data privacy laws will continue to emerge.  Frequently, countries’ motivation for passing or updating legislation is to enjoy the privileges of transferring personal information between themselves and the EU under the GDPR.  While many believe the GDPR has not been enforced as zealously as they anticipated, the law has clearly impacted privacy laws on a global scale in its first year.

– Courtney Reigel, Esq.

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