GDPR: What You Need to Know (even if you’re in the US)

by Diana Khoury, edited by Carol Ryan

You may have been getting a lot of privacy notices in your inbox lately. That’s because the GDPR, the European Union’s series of new privacy laws, went into effect on May 25, 2018. Even if you don’t live or do business in the EU, the GDPR can still impact you and your clients. Here’s what you need to know about protecting your clients’ privacy in the age of GDPR.

What is GDPR?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation, which was rolled out to protect the data privacy of European Union citizens. The Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which digital consultants to the Trump campaign misused the data of millions of Facebook users, underscored the need for data protection. The EU’s decision to give citizens more power over their own data privacy is rippling across the globe.

The US lags behind when it comes to cyber security and privacy protections. However, because of our global economy and the many services available via the internet, you are directly or indirectly affected by GDPR.

What do you need to do about GDPR?

Whether you have European clients or not, you build deeper trust with your clients when you show you value their privacy and are transparent about how their data is used.

If you do business with clients in Europe, you must comply with GDPR. Penalties for noncompliance with the GDPR are extremely high– up to 4 percent of your business’s annual worldwide income for serious violations.

Advice for small businesses seeking to comply with GDPR ranges from don’t do business in Europe, to work with an attorney or a GDPR consultant to update your data practices.

A recent Business News Daily story outlined key actions for small businesses seeking to comply with GDPR. Among them:

  • Conduct an analysis with a legal expert on data protection, looking at such questions as how you get consent and delete data.
  • Educate the whole team on their responsibilities in dealing with personal data.
  • Choose a point person to oversee data protection.

Building off your Privacy Policy

Data privacy is ever-evolving. Even before GDPR took effect, US law required websites to disclose the information they collect about their visitors and how they use this information. Part of doing business online is having a privacy policy, and most Web platforms such as WordPress provide tools for creating privacy policies.

If you do not have a privacy policy for your website, take this opportunity to create one. If you have Privacy Policy page, now is a good time to review and update it. Customers are increasingly aware and protective of their information. Show them you are keeping current by updating your policies.

Also as you have heard me say before, always seek explicit permission to add someone to your email list(s). GDPR requires an explicit opt-in for you to send someone email, and so do US laws regarding junk e-mail, or spam.

WordPress GDPR Tools

If your website is built on WordPress, you can use its tools to assist with GDPR compliance. For more on WordPress GDPR tools, click here. One WordPress tool is the GDPR plugin, code that assists a company’s data protection officer in complying with GDPR.

WordPress also can help you create a privacy policy in which you list all the ways you collect or intend to collect user information on your website. This will walk you through all the steps to creating a policy page and explains how doing so protects your business from legal issues and builds consumer trust.

In Summary

As thoughtful practitioners, we owe it to our clients and patients to respect and protect their personal information. Start with a privacy policy and build from there. Seek expert help from a lawyer if needed.

Consider data privacy a business asset– another way you are prioritizing and supporting the needs of your customers. Making data protection an integral part of your business will protect you and create trust with your clients for the long term.

This is an original article from Alternative Health Marketing. If you’d like to republish this article on your blog or print publication, you may do so freely with the acknowledgement, “This article is republished with permission from Alternative Health Marketing,” and provide a link back to the original article. It would also be great if you could email us and let us know where it’s being published. 

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