It is a sobering thought that every one of us has a long, intricate trail of data out there in the wider world.

Personal data, in the form of email addresses, names, where we live, our families, friends, employment records, IP addresses… Each trail is specific to us; its contents can totally identify us.

However, another trail running parallel to the first with much more sensitive data that, in the wrong hands, could be used to target us, such as our medical histories, sexuality and our gender, race and religion.

-All that, and we haven’t even started to mention Social Media profiles…

Cutting through the confusion

Information about your clients, suppliers, employees and other associates or stakeholders is your responsibility. Knowing exactly what that data is, where it is held (off-site, in the cloud or the filing cabinet, for example,) and the lengths of time you are obliged to keep it for are all important legal requirements.

Michelle Molyneux, Data Protection Officer, Know Your data

If you run a business, you will handle data just like that listed above and doing so is more of a responsibility than ever before.

It’s a worthwhile task to undertake, for legal compliance obviously, but for other reasons too:

  • Upholding people’s rights
  • Acting fast to address issues such as data breeches and cyber crime
  • Plan more focused, effective marketing strategies
  • Your customer relationships and reputation will lift you above the competition
  • You get a secure, organised and data-accurate business

Those are just some of the benefits of handling data correctly, but how on earth do you get to that point?

Don’t panic! Help is out there

If you are confused or concerned by issues surrounding the data you hold, don’t worry. You are not the first, and you are certainly not alone in feeling that way.  The first step, the only step that really matters at the beginning of that journey towards data handling compliance and peace of mind, is this-

Establishing exactly what data you hold

I can’t stress this enough, every data audit and every conversation with a GDPR specialist such as myself begins with a long, careful look at exactly what data you handle. It is THE most important job on day one…

We can then follow the legal framework and guidelines to ensure it is handled in a safe and compliant way.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is another valuable resource offering the help, and support businesses need to ensure data privacy. Their website offers simple to understand guides about data protection aimed at SME’s and even checklists and self-assessment tools such as this one.

If your business handles personal data, you should already be familiar with the ICO and the annual data protection fee, unless exempt. You can check if the fee applies to you here.

The ICO is a supervisory body and goes the extra mile to offer help and advice to individuals and organisations.

The excellent book ‘GDPR for Dummies’ by Suzanne Dibble cuts through much of the jargon with straightforward, easy to understand help and advice.

Lastly, but by no means least, there is me! As a certified Data Protection Officer, I can offer the help and support you need to ensure you ‘know your data’, and you’re handling it perfectly.

Why not send me a message, live chat or request a call any time? I’d love to help.