The EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) came into force across the European Union on 25th May 2018 and brought with it the most significant changes to data protection law in two decades. Founded on the fundamentals of privacy by design and a risk-based approach, the GDPR has been designed to meet the requirements of the digital age.
The 21st Century brings with it broad use of technology, new definitions of what constitutes personal data, and a vast increase in cross-border processing. The new Regulation aims to standardise data protection laws and processing across the EU, affording individuals stronger, more consistent rights to access and control their personal information.
MHA Monahans (‘we’ or ‘us’ or ‘our’) are committed to ensuring the security and protection of the personal information that we process, and to provide a compliant and consistent approach to data protection. We have always had a robust and effective data protection program in place which complies with existing law and abides by the data protection principles. However, we recognise the requirement and importance of updating and expanding this program to meet the demands of the GDPR and the UK’s Data Protection Bill.
MHA Monahans are dedicated to safeguarding the personal information under our remit and to developing a data protection regime that is effective, fit for purpose and demonstrates an understanding of, and appreciation for the new Regulation. Our GDPR activities included the development and implementation of new data protection roles, policies, procedures, controls and measures to ensure maximum and ongoing compliance.
How We Prepared for the GDPR
MHA Monahans already had a consistent level of data protection and security across our organisation, and we fulfilled the requirements of the GDPR for 25th May 2018. Our preparations included: -
• Information Audit - undertaking a company-wide information audit that has identified and assessed the personal information we hold, where it comes from, how and why it is processed and if and to whom it is disclosed.
• Policies & Procedures - implementing new data protection policies and procedures to meet the requirements the GDPR and any relevant data protection laws, including: -
• Data Protection – our main policy and procedure document for data protection has been reviewed and amended to meet the standards and requirements of the GDPR. Accountability and governance measures are in place to ensure that we understand and adequately disseminate and evidence our obligations and responsibilities; with a dedicated focus on privacy by design and the rights of individuals.
• Data Retention & Erasure – we have updated our retention policy and schedule to ensure that we meet the ‘data minimisation’ and ‘storage limitation’ principles and that personal information is stored, archived and destroyed compliantly and ethically. We have dedicated erasure procedures in place to meet the new ‘Right to Erasure’ obligation and are aware of when this and other data subject’s rights apply; along with any exemptions, response timeframes and notification responsibilities.
• Data Breaches – our breach procedures ensure that we have safeguards and measures in place to identify, assess, investigate and report, should any personal data breach occur, at the earliest possibility. Our procedures are robust and have been disseminated to all employees, who are aware of the reporting lines and steps to follow.
• International Data Transfers & Third-Party Disclosures – where MHA Monahans stores or transfers personal information outside the EU, we have robust procedures and safeguarding measures in place to secure, encrypt and maintain the integrity of the data. Our procedures include a continual review of the countries with sufficient adequacy decisions, as well as provisions for binding corporate rules; standard data protection clauses or approved codes of conduct for those countries without. We carry out due diligence checks with all recipients of personal data to assess and verify that they have appropriate safeguards in place to protect the information, ensure enforceable data subject rights and have effective legal remedies for data subjects where applicable.
• Subject Access Request (SAR) – we have revised our procedures to accommodate the revised 1-month timeframe for providing the requested information and for making this provision free of charge. Our new procedures detail how to verify the data subject, what steps to take for processing an access request, what exemptions apply and a suite of response templates to ensure that communications with data subjects are compliant, consistent and adequate.
• Legal Basis for Processing - we reviewed all processing activities to identify the legal basis for processing and ensure that each basis is appropriate for the activity it relates to. Where applicable, we are also maintaining records of our processing activities, ensuring that our obligations under Article 30 of the GDPR are met.
• Obtaining Consent - we have revised our consent mechanisms for obtaining personal data, ensuring that individuals understand what they are providing, why and how we use it and giving clear, defined ways to consent to us processing their information. We have developed stringent processes for recording consent, making sure that we can evidence an affirmative opt-in, along with time and date records; and an easy to see and access way to withdraw consent at any time.
• Direct Marketing - we have revised the wording and processes for direct marketing, including clear opt-in mechanisms for marketing subscriptions; a clear notice and method for opting out and providing unsubscribe features on all subsequent marketing materials.
Data Subject Rights
In addition to the policies and procedures mentioned above that ensure individuals can enforce their data protection rights, we provide easy to access information via in the office of an individual’s right to access any personal information that MHA Monahans processes about them and to request information about: -
• What personal data we hold about them
• The purposes of the processing
• The categories of personal data concerned
• The recipients to whom the personal data has/will be disclosed
• How long we intend to store your personal data for
• If we did not collect the data directly from them, information about the source
• The right to have incomplete or inaccurate data about them corrected or completed and the process for requesting this
• The right to request erasure of personal data (where applicable) or to restrict processing in accordance with data protection laws, as well as to object to any direct marketing from us and to be informed about any automated decision-making that we use
• The right to lodge a complaint or seek judicial remedy and who to contact in such instances
Information Security & Technical and Organisational Measures
MHA Monahans takes the privacy and security of individuals and their personal information very seriously and are taking every reasonable measure and precaution to protect and secure the personal data that we process. We have dedicated information security policies and procedures in place to protect personal information from unauthorised access, alteration, disclosure or destruction and have several layers of security measures, that align directly to the 10-steps of Cyber Security issued by the CESG in conjunction with the Cabinet Office, Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and Department for Business Innovation & Skills
GDPR Roles and Employees
MHA Monahans have a designated Data Protection Lead and have appointed a data privacy team to develop and implement our roadmap for complying with the new data protection Regulation. The team are responsible for promoting awareness of the GDPR across the organisation, assessing our GDPR readiness, identifying any gap areas and implementing the new policies, procedures and measures.
MHA Monahans understands that continuous employee awareness and understanding is vital to the continued compliance of the GDPR and engage our employees in our preparation plans. We implemented an employee training program specific to the latest GDPR requirements, and it forms part of our induction and annual training program.
If you have any questions about our GDPR, please contact our Data Protection Lead, James Gare on 01225 785520 or by email (email@example.com).