GDPR – Useful Definitions
If you have customers and / or staff, then you are a data controller. It is your responsibility to ensure that all personal data is safe, whether you are storing it yourself on your own computer in your own building, or outsourcing responsibility elsewhere.
For example, you might make decisions on which payroll service provider to use, which cloud provider your data is stored with, or which CRM system you use to manage customer contact details.
As a controller you are responsible for making sure your company complies fully with GDPR, and to make sure that any external services or processors you use, in any way, comply with GDPR – even if they are not based in the EU.
The processor is the person or company which processes, stores or accesses the data on behalf of a controller, but does not own or use the data themselves.
If you store personal data in a spreadsheet saved in the cloud (e.g. Office 365’s OneDrive or Dropbox), then the company which provides the cloud storage (e.g. Office 365 or Dropbox) are processors. They store and backup the data for you, but are not allowed to access it or use it themselves.
- If you use third-party email software to send marketing emails, the software provider is a processor – they store the personal data and send emails on your behalf, but they are not allowed to send emails themselves to your database
If you are a processor, the GDPR places specific legal obligations on you; for example, you are required to maintain records of personal data and processing activities. You will have legal liability if you are responsible for a breach.
Article 5 of the GDPR requires that personal data shall be:
a) processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to individuals;
b) collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes; further processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes shall not be considered to be incompatible with the initial purposes;
c) adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed;
d) accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay;
e) kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed; personal data may be stored for longer periods insofar as the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes subject to implementation of the appropriate technical and organisational measures required by the GDPR in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of individuals;
f) processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures.
Lawful bases for processing
(a) Consent: the individual has given clear consent for you to process their personal data for a specific purpose.
(b) Contract: the processing is necessary for a contract you have with the individual, or because they have asked you to take specific steps before entering into a contract.
(c) Legal obligation: the processing is necessary for you to comply with the law (not including contractual obligations).
(d) Vital interests: the processing is necessary to protect someone’s life.
(e) Public task: the processing is necessary for you to perform a task in the public interest or for your official functions, and the task or function has a clear basis in law.
(f) Legitimate interests: the processing is necessary for your legitimate interests or the legitimate interests of a third party unless there is a good reason to protect the individual’s personal data which overrides those legitimate interests. (This cannot apply if you are a public authority processing data to perform your official tasks.)
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The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) provides both comprehensive and straightforward advice and information on GDPR. Here are four useful links to make sure you fully understand your responsibilities:
The ICO's quick twelve-step overview to GDPR
Full and comprehensive guidelines from the ICO
Step-by-step checklists to make sure you've covered everything
A series of GDPR 'mythbusting' blog posts from the ICO