The Impact of the General Data Protection Regulation

It has been more than five years since the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) came into effect. It has had a significant impact on the international business environment, specifically regarding how organisations collect, process and store personal data.  

Following Brexit, there are two versions of the Regulation: the EU GDPR and UK GDPR. The UK GDPR supersedes the EU regulation in the UK and came into effect at the end of 2020. However, organisations in the UK that provide products and services to and monitor the activities of EU residents must also comply with the EU GDPR. This ruling also applies to organisations that operate outside the borders of the UK and EU. For example, if a US organisation collects, processes and stores data from UK and EU citizens, then both versions of the GDPR will apply. The EU GDPR and UK GDPR are almost identical except for certain additional measures covering international data transfers.   

Meanwhile, the UK government is continuing to reform data protection in the UK with the passing of the Data Protection and Digital Information (No.2) Bill, otherwise known as the DPDI Bill. It aims to introduce a more manageable framework by consolidating the best practices and principles of the GDPR to enhance the UK’s data protection standards while still aligning to the requirements of the EU. At the time of writing, the DPDI Bill has been carried over to the 2023–24 session and passed its remaining stages in the Commons at the end of November 2023.   

Years after the EU GDPR and UK GDPR took effect, they have become catalysts for data protection and privacy laws within the EU, the UK and the rest of the world. Privacy and data protection professionals must embrace new and developing laws that consider evolving technology such as artificial intelligence. From the foundations of the GDPR, there has been an increase in countries outside of the EU and UK forming their own data protection and privacy laws, leading to government-accredited certifications in certain countries both within the EU and outside. According to research by IAPP (International Association of Privacy Professionals), more than 700,000 DPOs (data protection officers) have been registered across the EU alone. Furthermore, GDPR cases in 2023 are estimated to make up more than 5% of the Court of Justice of the European Union’s rulings, and more than €4 billion in fines have been issued to date for breaches of the GDPR. The evidence is undeniable: the GDPR is evolving at an unstoppable pace.   

Considering the data protection reformations in the UK, developing laws in other countries, and the task of determining whether an organisation is required to comply with the EU GDPR, the UK GDPR, or both, it’s clear that GDPR compliance is a continuous process, not a one-off exercise. Non-compliance may lead to severe regulatory fines, costly security breaches, operational restrictions and reputational damage. Organisations should continually review their data protection systems and employee awareness programmes. An indication of healthy GDPR practices is an employee or group of employees achieving GDPR and DPO qualifications like those offered by IBITGQ.   

Why choose IBITGQ’s GDPR and DPO qualifications?

Under the GDPR, organisations must be able to provide evidence of compliance. One way they can do this is by employing certified professionals or upskilling employees with IBITGQ’s first-to-market GDPR qualifications.   

IBITGQ’s Certified GDPR Foundation and Practitioner qualifications were the first of their kind. The syllabi were developed by experts in the fields of data protection and privacy, and led to the creation of the internationally renowned Certified Data Protection Officer (DPO) qualification.   

The GDPR Foundation qualification provides a comprehensive introduction to the Regulation, its implications, and what it means for organisations and staff. It covers topics such as the development and history of the GDPR, essential definitions and scope of the GDPR, the six data processing principles, special categories of personal data, defining controllers and processors, and incident response measures.    

The value of the Foundation qualification is not limited to risk or compliance department members, information security managers, IT managers, data analysts, project managers and privacy counsels, but also people with general knowledge of the GDPR who want to develop their career with a professional qualification. However, the syllabus is exceptionally detailed as it lays the foundations for the GDPR Practitioner and DPO qualifications.   

Achieving the GDPR Practitioner qualification validates that the person understands how to implement an effective privacy and information security compliance programme in line with the GDPR. The syllabus is comprehensive, covering such areas as the application of the GDPR, the policies and procedures required, the six data protection principles and how to implement them to demonstrate compliance, the treatment of DSARs (data subject access requests), the roles of controllers and processors and the relationships between them, and the legal requirements for a DPIA (data protection impact assessment) and how to conduct one. The Practitioner qualification is most beneficial to those involved in managing data protection, risk and compliance, IT and governance.  

Those who have been appointed as a DPO or are pursuing a career as a DPO should consider the DPO qualification. It delves into the intricacies of the GDPR such as the legal background and how the Regulation intersects with the PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations), freedom of information legislation, the Law Enforcement Directive and EU member state implementation practices. It also defines the difference between the EU GDPR and UK GDPR, the monitoring of compliance in alignment with the Regulation, and the DPO’s role in incident management.    

More than five years since their introduction, GDPR and DPO qualifications are more relevant than ever. With the continual developments in data protection and privacy laws, achieving IBITGQ’s GDPR and DPO qualifications provides invaluable benefits to organisations and people.      IBITGQ’s GDPR and DPO qualifications open career opportunities in the fields of data protection and privacy, especially in light of the growing demand in these sectors with high earning potential. Becoming qualified validates a professional’s knowledge of and skills in the GDPR and data protection, demonstrating their commitment to information and data security. This commitment also indicates a level of integrity that organisations seek when building information, data and cyber security teams. Organisations that employ or upskill staff to achieve IBITGQ’s GDPR and DPO qualifications provide evidence of compliance, thereby reducing the risk of regulatory fines. Those organisations also strengthen their data protection and privacy procedures, mitigating the risk of security beaches, which can have severe financial and reputational consequences. Lastly, it provides an organisation with the liberty to operate without restrictions, demonstrating a commitment to business continuity and the reduction of skills gaps while contributing to a safer data and privacy environment.