What is GDPR? Everything You Need to Know (2023)

By Tibor Moes / Updated: June 2023

What is GDPR? Everything You Need to Know (2023)

What is GDPR?

In today’s interconnected digital world, data privacy has become a major concern for individuals and organizations alike. Personal information is being collected, processed, and shared at an unprecedented scale, and the need for a robust regulatory framework to protect individuals’ rights has never been more urgent.

Enter the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a game-changing data privacy law that has reshaped the way organizations handle personal data. Let’s dive in to understand the intricacies of GDPR and how it impacts data privacy and protection.


  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an EU law designed to protect the personal data of individuals within the European Economic Area.

  • It requires organizations that process the personal data of individuals in the EEA to provide privacy and security protections.

  • GDPR ensures lawful, fair, and transparent data processing, while minimizing the amount of personal data that is collected and ensuring its security.

Don’t become a victim of cybercrime. Protect your devices with the best antivirus software and your privacy with the best VPN service.

Understanding the Basics of GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a comprehensive privacy and security law that requires organizations worldwide to comply with certain obligations if they collect or target data related to people in the European Union (EU). Enforced since May 25, 2018, GDPR replaced the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive and aims to protect individuals and their data, ensuring that data collection is done responsibly. The GDPR applies to anyone dealing with personal data of EU citizens or residents, or providing goods or services to them, regardless of their location.

Under GDPR, organizations handling EU citizens’ data must adopt a baseline set of standards to better protect the processing and movement of citizens’ personal data. It also empowers data subjects with new privacy rights, giving them more control over the data they provide to organizations. Strict new rules have been made to better define when a data subject has given consent for their information to be processed. This will ensure that the right of the individual to choose how their data is used is respected.

The Evolution of GDPR

The right to privacy has been a cornerstone of European values since 1950, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that everyone has the right to protect their private and family life, home, and correspondence. As a result, the EU has long been committed to protecting this fundamental right through various data protection laws. GDPR, which superseded the 1995 data protection directive, was passed by the European Parliament in 2016 and became mandatory for all organizations from May 25, 2018.

In the UK, the Data Protection Act (2018) replaced the 1998 Data Protection Act, aligning the country’s data protection laws with GDPR. Interestingly, the California Consumer Privacy Act protects consumer privacy. Act has also been compared to GDPR, highlighting the increasing global recognition of the need for robust data protection laws.

Types of Data Protected by GDPR

GDPR casts a wide net when it comes to the types of data it protects. Personal data, as defined by GDPR, refers to any information that relates to an identifiable natural person, such as their name, email address, location, ethnicity, gender, biometric data, religious beliefs, and political opinions. This data can be used to identify individuals either directly or indirectly. Data processing, a fundamental concept within GDPR, encompasses any action performed on data, from collection to erasure, whether automated or manual.

Sensitive personal data, also known as special categories of personal data, receive even greater protection under GDPR. Health information, genetic data, race or ethnic origin, biometrics for identification, sex life or sexual orientation, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, and trade union membership all fall within the scope of sensitive personal information. Being aware of this information is essential to protecting individuals’ privacy. Pseudonymized data, which has been coded but can still be considered personal data even without the key-code or crosswalk needed to link it to an individual data subject, also falls within the scope of GDPR.

Key Principles Governing GDPR

The GDPR outlines seven principles for data protection and accountability, guiding organizations in their handling of personal data. One such principle is “data protection by design and by default”, which mandates that organizations take data protection principles into account when designing any new product or activity. For example, when launching a new app, organizations should consider what personal data the app might collect from users and implement measures to reduce the amount of data and secure it with the latest technology.

GDPR is underpinned by several core principles, including lawfulness, fairness and transparency, purpose limitation, data accuracy, storage limitation and integrity and confidentiality. These principles ensure users are provided with protection of their personal information. The data minimization principle, in particular, requires organizations to only collect the minimum amount of personal data needed for their purpose, and nothing more.

By adhering to these principles, organizations can ensure GDPR compliance and protect individuals’ data rights.

Compliance Requirements for Organizations

GDPR compliance is not just an EU concern; any company that markets goods or services to EU residents, regardless of where they are based, must abide by the regulation. This applies to all organizations, from small businesses to large enterprises, as long as they deal with personal data of EU citizens or residents or provide goods or services to them. A data controller, defined as the individual who makes decisions about how and why personal data is processed, must ensure that their organization follows GDPR guidelines.

To manage compliance effectively, organizations need to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) and implement data protection measures. The following subsections will delve further into these requirements.

Appointing a Data Protection Officer

A Data Protection Officer (DPO) plays a crucial role in ensuring data governance and GDPR compliance within an organization. Organizations must appoint a DPO if they meet any of three specific conditions under GDPR. The benefits of having a DPO extend beyond mere compliance, and can help organizations better understand GDPR’s impact, educate employees about their responsibilities, provide data protection training, audit and monitor GDPR compliance, and act as a contact point for regulators.

The DPO’s responsibilities include ensuring internal compliance, advising on data protection assessments, and acting as the go-to person for data subjects and the supervisory authority. By appointing a DPO, organizations can gain a comprehensive understanding of GDPR and how it impacts their data handling practices.

Implementing Data Protection Measures

To achieve GDPR compliance, organizations must put in place both technical and organizational measures to protect personal data. On the technical front, data should be securely stored, with access restricted to authorized personnel and protection from unauthorized access, alteration, or destruction. Measures such as encryption, pseudonymization, and access control should be implemented.

On the organizational side, data minimization and data retention policies should be enforced, along with measures to uphold data subject rights. Organizations should also conduct regular data protection impact assessments (DPIAs) to evaluate the potential risks of processing personal data and devise solutions to mitigate those risks.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Non-compliance with GDPR can result in severe consequences, including hefty fines and reputational damage for organizations. Fines can be as high as 20 million Euros or 4% of an organization’s prior financial year worldwide annual revenue, depending on the severity of the infringement.

Moreover, failure to comply with GDPR or suffering a data breach can lead to a loss of trust among customers and stakeholders, potentially causing long-lasting damage to an organization’s reputation. This highlights the importance of ensuring GDPR compliance and adopting appropriate data protection measures to avoid such consequences.

Navigating Third-Party Data and International Transfers

GDPR also covers personal data obtained from sources other than the data subjects themselves and the sharing of personal data outside the EU. A data processor, a third party that processes personal data on behalf of a data controller (e.g., cloud servers or email service providers), must also comply with GDPR. To ensure GDPR compliance when using third-party data collection sites, organizations should carefully review the privacy and security policies of these sites.

International transfers of personal data are subject to GDPR regulations as well. In the next subsection, we will discuss the impact of Brexit on UK data protection laws and GDPR compliance.

GDPR Post-Brexit

Brexit has led to significant changes in the way GDPR applies to the UK. Since leaving the EU, the UK is considered a third country under the EU GDPR, which limits transfers of personal data from the European Economic Area (EEA) to the UK. The UK has its own version of GDPR, known as UK GDPR, which closely mirrors the EU regulation.

UK companies that do business with EU member states are still expected to comply with the EU GDPR, in addition to adhering to the UK’s Data Protection Act (2018). This double layer of compliance requirements underscores the continued importance of GDPR for organizations operating in the UK post-Brexit.

Individual Rights Under GDPR

GDPR grants individuals eight rights that empower them to exercise greater control over the data they provide to organizations. Everyone has the right to know what personal data of theirs is being processed. This includes the right of access, rectification, restriction and erasure. Additionally, individuals have the right to data portability, object to automated decisions, and object to profiling.

Individuals can exercise these rights by submitting a Subject Access Request (SAR) to an organization, which must respond within a month and provide a confirmation that the individual’s personal data is being processed, a copy of the data (unless exemptions apply), and any other additional information that applies to the request. SARs have been used to uncover surprising amounts of personal information held by tech companies, highlighting the importance of GDPR in promoting transparency and data protection.

Preparing for GDPR Compliance: Best Practices

Organizations can take several practical steps to achieve and maintain GDPR compliance. By appointing a DPO, conducting a full data audit, updating privacy policies, and implementing appropriate technical and organizational measures, organizations can effectively protect personal data and adhere to GDPR requirements.

In the following subsections, we will delve deeper into strategies for assessing current data practices and developing a GDPR action plan.

Assessing Current Data Practices

Evaluating an organization’s existing data protection measures is a crucial step towards GDPR compliance. This involves identifying the risks related to processing personal data, evaluating the impact of those risks, and implementing the right technical and organizational measures to safeguard the data. Some of these measures include encryption, pseudonymization, and access control.

Organizations should also ensure that their data processing activities are necessary, proportional, and GDPR-compliant, as well as identify and address any potential risks that individuals might encounter when dealing with data processing. By thoroughly assessing current data practices, organizations can identify areas for improvement and strengthen their data protection efforts.

Developing a GDPR Action Plan

Creating a comprehensive plan for GDPR compliance involves several key steps. First, organizations should audit their core activities, including data processing activities, data flows, and data protection measures in place. Next, they should ensure that employees across the organization are well-informed about GDPR and their responsibilities, fostering a culture of data protection.

To develop a prioritized action plan, organizations should identify the areas with the highest risk and devise strategies to tackle those risks in an orderly fashion. Furthermore, creating a GDPR incident response plan, which includes notifying the relevant supervisory authority within 72 hours and providing details about the incident, is essential to ensure a timely and effective response to potential data breaches.


In conclusion, GDPR is a comprehensive data protection regulation that has significantly impacted the way organizations handle personal data. By understanding its scope and principles, appointing a Data Protection Officer, implementing data protection measures, and developing a GDPR action plan, organizations can achieve and maintain compliance, safeguarding individuals’ data rights and avoiding the severe consequences of non-compliance. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, GDPR serves as a reminder of the importance of data privacy and protection in our interconnected world.

How to stay safe online:

  • Practice Strong Password Hygiene: Use a unique and complex password for each account. A password manager can help generate and store them. In addition, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever available.
  • Invest in Your Safety: Buying the best antivirus for Windows 11 is key for your online security. A high-quality antivirus like Norton, McAfee, or Bitdefender will safeguard your PC from various online threats, including malware, ransomware, and spyware.
  • Be Wary of Phishing Attempts: Be cautious when receiving suspicious communications that ask for personal information. Legitimate businesses will never ask for sensitive details via email or text. Before clicking on any links, ensure the sender's authenticity.
  • Stay Informed. We cover a wide range of cybersecurity topics on our blog. And there are several credible sources offering threat reports and recommendations, such as NIST, CISA, FBI, ENISA, Symantec, Verizon, Cisco, Crowdstrike, and many more.

Happy surfing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

What is the GDPR General Data Protection Regulation?

The GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, is an EU law designed to protect the personal data of individuals within the European Economic Area. It requires organizations that process personal data of individuals in the EEA to provide privacy and security protections.

GDPR works to ensure the privacy and safety of all individuals within the EEA.

What does the General Data Protection Regulation regulate?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European law that regulates the processing of personal data for individuals within the European Economic Area (EEA). It sets out obligations and responsibilities for companies to ensure adequate protection of personal data, including introducing measures to secure personal data and being transparent about how they process it.

Companies must comply with the GDPR to protect the privacy of individuals and ensure that their data is handled responsibly. This includes implementing technical and organizational measures to protect personal data, such as encryption and pseudonymization, as well as providing clear information about personal data.

What are the 4 key components of GDPR?

The four key components of the GDPR are ensuring lawful, fair, and transparent processing, limiting the purpose of data collection, minimizing the amount of personal data collected, and ensuring accuracy and data security.

These components are designed to protect the privacy of individuals and ensure that their data is handled responsibly. They include ensuring that data is collected for a specific purpose, that it is accurate and secure, and that it is not kept longer than necessary. Additionally, data controllers must be transparent about their activities.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

Security Software

Best Antivirus for Windows 11
Best Antivirus for Mac
Best Antivirus for Android
Best Antivirus for iOS
Best VPN for Windows 11

Cyber Technology Articles

Active Directory (AD)
Android Examples
Android Types
Authentication Types
Biometrics Types
Bot Types
Cache Types
CAPTCHA Examples
Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing Examples
Cloud Computing Types
Compliance Examples
Computer Cookies
Confidentiality Examples
CPU Examples
CPU Types
Cryptocurrency Examples
Cryptocurrency Types
Dark Web
Data Breach
Data Broker
Data Center
Data Center Types
Data Integrity
Data Mining
Data Mining Examples
Data Mining Types
Dedicated Server
Digital Certificate
Digital Footprint
Digital Footprint Examples
Digital Rights Management (DRM)
Digital Signature
Digital Signature Examples
Digital Signature Types
Endpoint Devices
Ethical Hacking
Ethical Hacking Types
Facial Recognition
Fastest Web Browser
General Data Protection Regulation
GPU Examples
GPU Types
Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Storage
Hardware Examples
Hardware Types
Hashing Examples
Hashing Types
HDMI Types
Hosting Types
Incognito Mode
Information Assurance
Internet Cookies
Internet Etiquette
Internet of Things (IoT)
Internet of Things (IoT) Examples
Internet of Things (IoT) Types
iOS Examples
iOS Types
IP Address
IP Address Examples
IP Address Types
LAN Types
Linux Examples
Linux Types
Local Area Network (LAN)
Local Area Network (LAN) Examples
Machine Learning
Machine Learning Examples
Machine Learnings Types
MacOS Examples
MacOS Types
Modem Types
Netiquette Examples
Network Topology
Network Topology Examples
Network Topology Types
Operating System
Operating System Examples
Operating System Types
Password Types
Personal Identifiable Information (PII)
Personal Identifiable Info Examples
Port Forwarding
Private Browsing Mode
Proxy Server
Proxy Server Examples
QR Code Examples
QR Code Types
Quantum Computing
Quick Response (QR) Code
RAM Examples
RAM Types
Random Access Memory (RAM)
Router Examples
Router Types
SD Wan
Server Examples
Server Types
Shareware Examples
Shodan Search Engine
Software Examples
Software Types
Solid State Drive (SSD) Storage
Static vs Dynamic IP Address
Tor Browser
URL Examples
URL Types
USB Types
Virtual Private Server (VPS)
Web Browser
Web Browser Examples
Web Browser Types
Web Scraping
Website Examples
Website Types
WEP vs WPA vs WPA2
What Can Someone Do with Your IP
Wi-Fi Types
Windows Examples
Windows Types