GDPR: Two thirds of organisations aren't prepared for the 'right to be forgotten'

With new EU data protection legislation just weeks away, a large number of organisations risk fines by being non-compliant.
Written by Danny Palmer, Senior Writer

People across Europe are set to gain additional control over their personal information from new legislation, but with just under three months until it comes into force, two thirds of organisations aren't prepared for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 'right to be forgotten'.

The European Union-led data protection reforms officially come into force from May 25 2018 and aims to simplify the regulatory environment around data to help consumers and businesses in the digital economy.

At it's heart, GDPR is designed to provide regulations on how information on residents across the EU is collected, stored, used, processed, transferred and deleted by organisations.

However, despite non-compliance to these rules potentially involving a fine of €20 million - or even 4% of a company's global turnover - confusion still reigns over what the 'right to be forgotten' actually means in practice.

See also: What is GDPR? Everything you need to know about the new general data protection regulations

According to research by big data application provider Solix, two thirds of organisations are unsure if an individual's personal information is purged from all systems, forever. Meanwhile. just 43 percent of organisations have any defined process for methodical deletion of records and confirmation checks.

That could lead to problems if an individual asks to be forgotten and the request isn't carried out - potentially leading to the large fines.

Solix's research also found that 82 percent of organisations don't know where their most sensitive personal data is stored, with only 55 percent maintaining audit trails for data consents, collections updates, and deletion. All of this could lead to organisations being deemed non-GDPR compliant.

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"It's clear that the majority of organizations are not currently prepared to meet GDPR requirements," said John Ottman, Executive Chairman of Solix Technologies. "There is an urgency to take steps now, as the enforcement deadline quickly approaches and applies to anyone who is currently operating with EU customers."

A analysis by Forrester found that just a quarter of organisations across Europe are thought to be GDPR compliant already, with significant numbers of organisations unsure about what they need to do about GDPR, with some even being unaware of it completely.

In addition to this recent UK government report suggested that under half of businesses are aware of the upcoming GDPR laws or what they mean for information security is handled.

Organisations of all sizes in all sectors find themselves having to prepare for GDPR, with local government one of many sectors which need to comply. A newly released report by the Parliament Street think tank has described GDPR as "a major challenge for the way local authorities approach data security policies and handle public information".

Figures released following a freedom of information request by the think tank suggest London boroughs have spent over £1.2 million in an effort to prepare for GDPR, but there's a large disparity between budgets being set aside.

At the highest end, Tower Hamlets has set aside £300,000 for GDPR compliance while Houslow has set aside the lowest amount - just £1,000 has been spent on staff training and materials, with an additional £4,000 set aside for the rest of the year.

The report recommends that GDPR compliance across London could me made simpler if the boroughs shared responses.

"The sharing of GDPR consultants, sharing of data management policies and implementation strategies will in turn reduce costs and create a more efficient example of local government in action," says the paper.


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