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Over half of UK business owners unaware of GDPR

News   •   Jun 05, 2017 17:08 BST

84% of UK small business owners and 43% of senior executives of large companies are unaware of the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation, despite there now being less than a year to go until the law comes into force, a law that is designed to bring greater strength and consistency to the data protection given to individuals within the European Union.

Shred-It's seventh annual Security Tracker survey also found that only 14% of small business owners and 31% of senior executives were able to correctly identify the fine associated with the new regulation – up to €20 million or 4% of global turnover. This is despite a large proportion of senior executives (95%) and small business owners (87%) claiming to have at least some understanding of their industry’s legal requirements.

Businesses which are unaware of the forthcoming legislation and its implications are not only putting themselves at risk of severe financial penalties, but also the reputational damage caused by adverse publicity associated with falling foul of the law. This can often have a greater impact than the fine itself. Research shows that 64% of executives agree that their organization’s privacy and data protection practices contribute to reputation and brand image.

Data breaches are already the second greatest cause of concern for business continuity professionals, according to the Business Continuity Institute's latest Horizon Scan Report, and once this legislation comes into force, bringing with it higher penalties than already exist, this level of concern is only likely to increase. Organizations need to make sure they are aware of the requirements of the GDPR, and ensure that their data protection processes are robust enough to meet these requirements.

Of those respondents who claim to be aware of the legislation change, only 40% of senior executives have already begun to take action in preparation for the GDPR, in spite of 60% agreeing that the change in legislation would put pressure on their organization to change its policies related to information security.

The survey also highlights that companies feel the UK Government needs to take more action. 41% of small business owners (an 8% increase from 2016) believe that the Government’s commitment to information security needs improvement.

Robert Guice, Senior Vice President Shred-it EMEAA, said: “As we approach May 2018, it’s crucial that organizations of all sizes begin to take a proactive approach in preparing for the incoming GDPR. From implementing stricter internal data protection procedures such as staff training, internal processing audits and reviews of HR policies, to ensuring greater transparency around the use of personal information, businesses must be aware of how the legislation will affect their company to ensure they are fully compliant.

Governmental bodies such as the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), must take a leading role in supporting businesses to get GDPR ready, by helping them to understand the preparation needed and the urgency in acting now. The closer Government, information security experts and UK businesses work together, the better equipped organizations will find themselves come May 2018.” 

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