June 24, 2024

How to Comply with GDPR (6 Essential Steps)


Data protection compliance is a gradual, step-by-step process. It may be tempting to start drafting a Privacy Policy or encrypting data to protect your business, but without a clear roadmap of effective procedures, your company is still at risk of being fined for poor data handling. Instead, consider the following action plan outlined in this article.

This article is brought to you by the Legal Nodes Privacy Team. Legal Nodes is a legal platform that supports tech companies operating globally. We help businesses establish and maintain legal structures and handle privacy, data protection and compliance matters in 20+ countries.

Please note: none of this information should be considered as legal, tax, or privacy advice. We do our best to make sure information is accurate at the time of publishing, however laws and practices may change. To kickstart your GDPR compliance process and find out how Legal Nodes can help you, explore our GDPR packages.

1. Undertake a Privacy Audit or Assessment

Review your business activities and procedures. Create a comprehensive map of your data usage and any records of processing activities. Make sure you include all departments that are engaged in data processing. This typically includes HR, recruiting, marketing, business intelligence, accounting, development teams and technical support. Mapping out your data allows you to assess the risks with your current data handling procedures and figure out new measures to address them best.

💡 Worth checking: The Ultimate Privacy Compliance Guide

2. Introduce Data Protection Policies

Using the results from your data assessment, you can start drafting relevant data protection policies including security policies and a new set of procedures for answering data requests from your users. From a technical perspective, your new policies should provide each data operation with protective measures that prevent a data breach. These measures should also control access to the data, for example, implementing two-factor authentications to prevent unauthorised access. Where required you should encrypt and mask the data and use antivirus and firewall software to help you monitor any threats to your data security.

📚 Discover more: GDPR compliance guide for fintech companies

3. Set Up User-friendly Privacy Policy Guides

How you interact with users on your website or software application is important. You must ensure that you have a privacy policy, cookie policy, and user-friendly guides that explain how you handle your users’ data. Legal Nodes offers a Privacy Bundle, which is a standardised solution consisting of a Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy, and guidance on a privacy-friendly user interface. For B2B startups it also includes Data Processing Agreements to protect data of client companies.

4. Introduce Data Protection Training for Your Employees

Human error is the number one cause of personal data breaches, so start building a privacy culture in your company. Familiarise your employees with basic privacy concepts and train them to perform their duties in data protection compliance.

💡 Worth checking: what is a RoPA (Record of Processing Activities) and when do you need it?

5. Set Up Data Processing Agreements

You must manage relationships with your partner companies that receive customer data from you and work with them using appropriate data protection agreements. Another important point is international transfers: if your partners or suppliers are located in another country, this will require additional contractual safeguards to ensure the proper handling of client data. Some frameworks, like the Data Privacy Framework set out by the EU, enable data to be transferred using certain mechanisms.

👉 NEW! Get an EU-US DPF self-certification for your business

6. Get a Data Protection Officer

Last but not least: consider whether you need a Data Protection Officer, a professional that oversees data protection compliance within the company. This role can be performed both by an internal employee or an external contractor. Learn more about how Data Protection Officers can help your business stay compliant.

👉 Get a Virtual Data Protection Officer

Privacy compliance is not just about measures, it’s about the mindset of you and your company. If you treat your clients’ privacy as a company value, data protection can become your competitive advantage.

Explore our GDPR packages for startups

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Vlad is Head of DPO Product @Legal Nodes and a certified (CIPP/E, CIPM, FIP) privacy specialist. He's currently doing a PhD study on the topic of AI and personal data protection.

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