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General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a comprehensive data privacy regulation implemented by the European Union (EU) in May 2018. It aims to protect the personal data and privacy rights of EU citizens by enforcing strict guidelines on the collection, processing, and storage of their personal information. Organizations around the world handling EU residents’ data must comply with GDPR or face significant penalties.


In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), the phonetic transcription of “General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)” is:/ˈʤɛnərəl ˈdeɪtə prəˈtɛkʃən ˌrɛgjʊˈleɪʃən ˈʤiːdiːˈpiːɑr/

Key Takeaways

  1. GDPR aims to protect the personal data and privacy of individuals in the European Union by regulating how organizations collect, process, and store personal data.
  2. Organizations must obtain consent from individuals before collecting and processing their personal data, and must be transparent about how they store and use it. GDPR also grants individuals the right to access, correct, and delete their personal data upon request.
  3. Non-compliance with GDPR may result in significant penalties for organizations, including potential fines of up to 4% of their annual global turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher.


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is important because it sets a standard for data protection and privacy in the European Union. This comprehensive regulation aims to safeguard the personal data of EU citizens, empowering them to be in control of their information. GDPR requires businesses to be transparent about their data practices, limit the amount of data they collect, and obtain explicit consent from individuals before processing their personal data. Moreover, it enforces stringent penalties for non-compliance, which can reach up to 4% of a company’s annual global turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher. Overall, GDPR promotes trust and accountability in the digital ecosystem, ensuring a more responsible use of personal data by organizations, and enabling consumers to have greater control over their privacy.


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) serves an essential purpose by providing a comprehensive legal framework to bolster and safeguard the privacy rights of individuals within the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). Instituted in May 2018, GDPR encourages businesses and organizations to maintain a greater degree of transparency and responsibility when it comes to the collection, processing, and storage of personal data. This landmark regulation empowers individuals by giving them more control over their personal information, ensuring rigorous security measures are in place to protect that data and making certain that its usage aligns with their preferences and consent.

In order to fulfill its objectives, GDPR delineates several crucial provisions that must be adhered to by businesses and organizations operating in the EU or serving EU citizens. These stipulations encompass everything from gaining explicit user consent for data collection to appointing a Data Protection Officer for ensuring compliance. GDPR also grants individuals the much-needed “right to be forgotten,” which enables them to request the removal of their personal information from an organization’s databases or from the public domain. By doing so, GDPR has significantly raised the bar for data protection standards worldwide, creating an improved digital environment marked by trust, transparency, and a commitment to upholding individual privacy rights.


Example 1: British Airways GDPR Fine (2018)In September 2018, British Airways suffered a significant data breach, which resulted in the theft of personal data, including the payment card details, names, and addresses of around 500,000 customers. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found that the company had violated GDPR regulations due to insufficient security measures. In July 2019, the ICO announced its intention to fine British Airways a record-breaking £183 million ($230 million) for the GDPR non-compliance.

Example 2: Marriott International Hotel Group GDPR Fine (2018)In November 2018, Marriott International Hotel Group disclosed a data breach that affected approximately 339 million guests worldwide due to a cyberattack on a reservation database from a company the hotel chain had acquired. Personal data stolen included names, email addresses, phone numbers, and passport numbers. After investigations, the ICO announced its intention to fine Marriott £99 million (around $123 million) for GDPR violations.

Example 3: Google GDPR Fine in France (2019)In January 2019, French data protection authority CNIL fined Google €50 million (around $57 million) for violating General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules. The fine originated from user complaints, which accused Google of not providing transparent and easily accessible information regarding data consent policies and processing. The complaints also claimed that Google did not have a valid legal basis for processing user data for ad personalization. This marked the first major penalty against a leading tech company under GDPR regulations regarding user consent.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

GDPR is a comprehensive data privacy regulation that aims to protect the personal data of European Union (EU) citizens and regulate how this data is collected, processed, and stored by companies. It was implemented on May 25, 2018, and applies to any organization that handles the personal data of EU residents, regardless of the company’s location.

Who needs to comply with GDPR?

Any organization, regardless of its geographical location, that processes or controls the personal data of EU residents must comply with GDPR. This includes businesses, nonprofits, government entities, and any other types of organizations that handle such data.

What is considered “personal data” under GDPR?

Personal data is any information that can be directly or indirectly linked to an identifiable individual. This includes names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, IP addresses, location data, online identifiers (cookies), and unique identification numbers.

What are the key principles of GDPR?

The key principles of GDPR are transparency, purpose limitation, data minimization, accuracy, storage limitation, integrity and confidentiality, and accountability. These principles guide organizations to properly handle personal data with respect and in compliance with the regulation.

What are data controllers and data processors?

A data controller is an organization that decides how and why personal data is processed, while a data processor is any third-party organization that processes personal data on behalf of the data controller. Both data controllers and processors must adhere to GDPR regulations, and controllers are responsible for ensuring their processors comply.

What are the rights granted to individuals under GDPR?

GDPR provides EU residents with the following individual rights: 1. Right of access: Individuals can request access to their personal data held by an organization.2. Right to rectification: Individuals have the right to correct inaccurate data or complete partial data.3. Right to erasure (“right to be forgotten”): Individuals can request the deletion of their personal data.4. Right to restrict processing: Under some conditions, individuals can request a limit to their data processing. 5. Right to data portability: Individuals can request their personal data in a machine-readable format to transfer to another service.6. Right to object: Individuals can object to their data being used for specific purposes.7. Rights related to automated decision-making and profiling: Individuals have the right against decisions that significantly affect them based solely on automated processing.

What is a Data Protection Officer (DPO)?

A Data Protection Officer is an individual designated by an organization to ensure compliance with GDPR and to safeguard the organization’s data protection practices. DPOs are mandatory for public authorities and for organizations with large-scale or high-risk data processing.

What are the consequences of non-compliance with GDPR?

Non-compliance with GDPR can result in significant fines, with the maximum penalty being €20 million or 4% of a company’s annual global turnover, whichever is higher. Non-compliance can also result in damage to an organization’s reputation and loss of consumer trust.

Related Finance Terms

  • Data Controller
  • Data Processor
  • Personal Data
  • Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA)
  • Data Subject Rights

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