In less than a year, Europe's data protection rules will undergo their biggest changes in two decades. Since they were created in the 90s, the amount of digital information we create, capture, and store has vastly increased. Simply put, the old regime was no longer fit for purpose.The solution is the mutually agreed European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will come into force on May 25 2018. It will change how businesses and public sector organisations can handle the information of customers.The regulation has spawned a raft of GDPR experts who want to help businesses prepare for the changes GDPR will bring – and make a tidy sum for their expertise. Elizabeth Denham, the UK's information commissioner, who is in charge of data protection enforcement, says she is frustrated by the amount of "scaremongering" around the potential impact for businesses. "The GDPR is a step change for data protection," she says. "It's still an evolution, not a revolution". She adds that for businesses and organisations already complying with existing data protection laws the new regulation is only a "step change".
Still, plenty of confusion remains. To help clear things up, here's WIRED's guide to the GDPR.The GDPR is Europe's new framework for data protection laws – it replaces the previous 1995 data protection directive, which current UK law is based upon.
The EU's GDPR website says the legislation is designed to "harmonise" data privacy laws across Europe as well as give greater protection and rights to individuals. Within the GDPR there are large changes for the public as well as businesses and bodies that handle personal information, which we'll explain in more detail later.
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