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 things like 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.

There is, 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

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.

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.

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

  • To uphold people’s rights.
  • So you can act fast to address issues such as data breaches and cybercrime
  • Be able to plan more focused, effective marketing strategies
  • Your customer relationships and reputation will lift you above the competition
  • Be 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…

From that point, we can then follow the legal framework and guidelines to ensure it is handled safely and compliant.

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 one that goes the extra mile to offer help and advice to individuals and organisations.

There is also the excellent book ‘GDPR for Dummies’ by Suzanne Dibble, which 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 Virtual Assistant with GDPR experience, I can offer the help and support you need to ensure you ‘know your data, and you’re handling it perfectly.

You can send me a message, live chat or request a call any time. I’d love to help!

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