SMEs unaware of new data protection rules

New data protection rules coming into force next May will change how companies are required to process information, such as customer lists and employee records.

Whilst the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is more complex and carries much tougher punishments for those who fail to comply with new rules, a survey of more than 1,000 SMEs, commissioned by Irwin Mitchell, found that 78 per cent had not heard of the new rules, while 86 per cent were not aware of the threat of fines. Only 11 per cent had started preparing for it.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham says there’s no time to delay in preparing for “the biggest change to data protection law for a generation”.

She adds: “If your organisation can’t demonstrate that good data protection is a cornerstone of your business policy and practices, you’re leaving your organisation open to enforcement action that can damage both public reputation and bank balance. But there’s a carrot here as well as a stick: get data protection right, and you can see a real business benefit.”

The Federation of Small Businesses warns the new rules will add to costs for SMEs and has called on the government to launch an awareness campaign over the summer.

At Beavis Morgan, we understand the challenges faced by business owners. We work with many small and medium sized businesses across a wide range of industry sectors, guiding them though the various stages of business life from start up to exit and all the challenges in between. If you have any concerns relating to the matter of data protection, we are able to put you in touch with companies within our extensive network of contacts who will be able to assist. It’s part of our commitment to supporting SME businesses by providing a holistic suite of business advisory services.

Please contact Gareth Dalton on 020 7549 2433 or your usual Beavis Morgan Partner.

Additional reading:

The Information Commissioner’s Office has provided a data protection self assessment toolkit for SMEs, including a section focussed on getting ready for GDPR. The checklist aims to help businesses assess their progress in preparing for GDPR. 

BT has also produced a white paper, ‘Dealing with new EU data-protection regulation’, which outlines the implications of the new regulations and gives advice on how best to prepare.