GDPR: Why It’s More Important in 2021 Than Ever Before

GDPR. In the simpler times of 2018, these four letters were enough to send shivers down the spine of every business. Today, nearly three years to the day since its introduction, such worries seem trivial compared to the disruption and destruction of COVID-19.

But the bottom line still remains, GDPR compliance is a continual process, not a one-off activity – and a failure to adhere to its compulsory legislation will see your business suffer irreparable reputational damage and fines of up to 4% of your Annual Global Turnover.

So, why is compliance more important today than ever before? In short, the answer is data. Data that now flows throughout every organisation and is becoming increasingly essential to success. But if not looked after in a secure and compliant way, that same data has the potential to be the undoing of any business, regardless of shape or size.
To ensure your business doesn’t become the latest statistic or headline, our infographic – 10 Steps to GDPR Compliance in 2021 – explores some of the essential ways your organisation can protect your personal information in today’s data-driven world.

But in the meantime, we wanted to explore the pandemic’s impact on data protection and GDPR, and what this means for your business in a new world of work, where employees switch freely between home and office environments – and data only continues to grow in importance.

COVID-19’s Impact on GDPR

In the wake of COVID-19, the most pressing consideration in relation to GDPR is the fact that many of us are currently working from home. Which is a trend that is almost certainly here to stay even once offices around the world reopen, with many companies set to embrace a hybrid model of working.

In response, the way we physically stay compliant will change. For example, now there isn’t easy access to an office shredder, how should employees dispose of confidential documents? Our guide to secure remote work offers guidance on such short term challenges – and how to overcome them.

But longer term, organisations will need to update their policies to cover those small-but-important processes. In addition, it will be essential to educate staff and raise awareness of the risks, so that every person in an organisation has the confidence to handle and securely dispose of sensitive information, regardless of where they’re working.

Beyond the physical threats, this shift in ways of working has also effectively widened security perimeters from a single office to potentially the entire globe. With this comes the need to put data protection at the top of every business agenda, rather than being an afterthought in the data handling process.

Given the fact that it’s now been almost three years to the day since the introduction of the GDPR, failure to comply can no longer be an excuse. Ultimately, whatever period of grace the authorities gave when the legislation first came into force has well and truly passed.

And while crippling fines for a failure to comply with the regulation were once the talk of the town, the fact that the pandemic has stolen the lion’s share of headlines in the past year or so, doesn’t mean businesses haven’t suffered eye-watering penalties. Recent, multi-million pound / euro fines to the likes of Google and H&M are testament to this.
But of course, it’s arguably the reputational damage that can have the biggest, most lasting impact on a business. In 2021, customers trust companies with their data – but once this trust is betrayed, it’s almost impossible to claw back. So, why run the risk of becoming a headline, or a business blacklisted in the eyes of the public?

Shred-it protects what matters and what matters to us is the security of your business. By following the simple steps outlined in our infographic, combined with our specialty shredding services, you can give your company every chance to prevent your personal information from falling into the wrong hands, at the same time as always ensuring compliance with the GDPR.