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Five essential pillars of big data GDPR compliance

Less than a year from now, on May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect in the European Union. GDPR represents a significant change in how data will be handled around the world.

In the United States, the 2017 GDPR Preparedness Pulse Survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers polled C-suite executives from large American multinationals and showed that U.S. companies are overwhelmingly aware of, and concerned with, GDPR regulations. Over half of survey respondents cited GDPR as a “top” priority, and 38 percent named it “among” their top priorities. And rightfully so given that fines are applicable to U.S. businesses as well and that the new regulations are relatively complicated and will require significant preparation, not just as an afterthought.

It’s easy to assume that just because a company doesn’t have a physical or significant presence in the EU that the GDPR doesn’t apply, but the text of the regulation makes it clear that any interaction with EU consumer data brings a company under its jurisdiction. If a website simply collects data on EU citizens, the company must comply. In short, GDPR applies to any enterprise in the world that targets the European market in offering goods or services or profiles European citizens.

For companies in big data (or any data for that matter), one of the most daunting things about the GDPR is that organizations have already accumulated massive amounts of data and the regulations apply not just going forward, but retroactively as well. The path towards GDPR compliance for big data organizations begins by identifying the five critical challenges:

  1. Data storage: determining where personal data is stored across multiple different (potentially siloed) data sources.
  2. Aligning teams: Aligning everyone across the company (including IT, marketing, customer support, and data teams) on new policies and execution of any changes.
  3. Accommodating data subject requests: Putting processes in place to accommodate requests from data subjects and ensuring all teams can execute on processes in a timely matter.
  4. Data governance: Ensuring proper data governance, security and monitoring are in place in case of audit.
  5. Adaptability: Implementing agile solutions that keep your operations flexible and easily adaptable to change.

Change is inevitable, and the reality of data protection and privacy regulations is that they will continue to evolve with emerging new technologies. So for all businesses working on GDPR compliance, it’s important to adopt a flexible solution that will change along with future technologies and regulations. This, of course, means choosing a solution that offers access to cutting-edge data science tools and the best of the open source world so that the business can continue to grow and evolve and not be stagnated by regulatory requirements. But it also means finding a solution to data governance and the other challenges presented by GDPR that evolve with those requirements instead of backing your business into a technological corner. This is especially true for companies dealing with GDPR that are not based in the EU, and even more so for those facing Brexit uncertainties.

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