Don’t worry - it’s not as bad as you think. But it does need doing. And if something goes wrong before you get it sorted, the implications for your business could be very nasty indeed. So let’s get started.

Only three or four years ago, data protection wouldn’t have justified its own page on a law firm website. It may have been regarded as an adjunct to IP, technology or commercial law. Then an Austrian privacy campaigner started a legal action against Facebook in Ireland to challenge the international structures that govern the treatment of information that was capable of identifying individuals. The dominoes fell. The Safe Harbor agreement between the EU and the USA was replaced by Privacy Shield. Then the Data Protection Directive (implemented in the UK as the Data Protection Act 1998) was replaced by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force in 2018 and will affect all businesses everywhere. The GDPR clears up most of the grey areas that allowed businesses to navigate the data protection landscape safely. That’s good. But most of those grey areas are resolved in favour of the individuals who are the subject of the data in question. That is going to make life more difficult for businesses in the short term as they adapt to the new climate. Every business needs to have a careful look at the personally-identifiable information that it holds, where it comes from, where it goes to, what they use it for and why. And every business has to have a contingency plan in place in case disaster strikes. But the good news is that whatever you’re doing, the chances are that you will still be able to do it under the GDPR. You just need to think a bit more carefully about it, document everything and be as transparent as possible. And this means recording everything in words that ordinary people - your customers and your staff - can understand. Which is where we come in. Don’t worry - it’s not as bad as you think. But it does need doing. And if something goes wrong before you get it sorted, the implications for your business could be very nasty indeed. So let’s get started.

*PARTICULAR PEOPLE