Saturday, November 25, 2017

Ireland armours itself ahead of GDPR with national coalition

With administrative fines of up to €20m or 4% of total annual global turnover, misunderstanding GDPR could mean death to many businesses.

Ireland has today become one of the first EU member states to launch a national coalition to mitigate hardships surrounding the adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set to take effect on May 25, 2018.

The GDPR is the latest attempt by the EU to secure and ensure that European citizens’ data remains in the EU.

However, the new regulation has caused much confusion across member states. With that in mind and in order to help companies through the process of adopting the GDPR, the GDPR Awareness Coalition was now put to work in Ireland where many international companies, including web scalers, have over the last decade invested billions of Dollars to build data centres.

At its start, the initiative has grouped together more than 60 Coalition Partners that include GDPR experts, vendors, and legal, fiscal, event and general collaborators, and business associations.

In addition to the launch of the initiative, the coalition has also announced that Host in Ireland founder and president, Garry Connolly, and Dennis Jennings, Ireland’s first and only member of the Internet Hall of Fame, who was responsible for the decisions that developed National Science Foundation Network (NSFnet), will serve as co-chairs.

Speaking to Data Economy, Connolly said: “The power is in the collective. Collaboration / co-opetition is a very powerful thing. The motivation for the establishment of the initiative was a result of the growing concern that awareness of GDPR in Ireland was very imbalanced.

“Awareness appeared to be very high in multinational businesses to quite low within the construction and retail sectors, for example.

“After conducting research in Ireland there was a distinct view that the Subject Matter of GDPR is perceived as being either very complicated or very technical in nature , as a result we will keep all of our messaging very simple and based around 60 single page infographics which in turn will only have six points / references / guidelines.”

Connolly continued to say that with many of the world’s leading companies calling Ireland home for their operations in Europe, “it was a concern to us when we read some of the recent reports that Ireland had a below-average awareness of the GDPR in comparison to other EU countries”.

Questioned if other countries should follow suit with the creation of national discussion and help groups around the adoption of GDPR, Connolly remembered that GDPR will not just affect a certain group of companies, but affect all companies in any level of data processing, in any EU country.

He said: “The consequences for not adhering to the GDPR can be severe. The regulation gives data protection establishments more authority to tackle non-compliance, including the ability to enact significant administrative fines of up to €20m (or 4% of total annual global turnover, whichever is greater) for the most serious violations.

“The GDPR also simplifies the path for individuals to bring private claims against data controllers when their data privacy has been infringed, and allows data subjects who have suffered non-material damage as a result of a breach to sue for compensation.”