Insight into the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The world of digital business is continuously transforming, and privacy regulations must adapt to keep pace. One such significant change is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), implemented by the European Union (EU) in 2016. This regulation is designed to protect the rights of EU citizens to privacy and control over their personal data.

The GDPR reflects the EU's belief that by giving citizens greater control over their digital data, trust in online businesses will increase. This, in turn, is expected to promote a more vibrant digital economy. Any violations of the GDPR can lead to substantial financial penalties, which came into effect on May 25, 2018.

The Significance of GDPR

GDPR's impact is vast and often underappreciated. It can affect businesses worldwide, not just those based in the EU. If your company deals with EU customers or monitors their online behavior, it is critical to comply with the GDPR. Violations can lead to significant fines – up to 4% of global annual turnover or 20 million euros, whichever is higher. Lesser violations can still result in penalties of up to 2% of global turnover or 10 million euros.

Understanding GDPR Terminology

To fully grasp the GDPR, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with its key terms:

  • Consent: Before reaching out to contacts in the EU, explicit permission is required. If the contact information was obtained from a third party, the source must be identified upon first interaction.
  • Cross-Border Data Transfer: The process of transmitting personal data beyond the borders of the EU/EAA.
  • Data Subject: An EU citizen whose personal information is collected by a data controller.
  • Data Controller: The entity responsible for managing or collecting personal data.
  • Data Portability: The right of a data subject to receive their personal data from the data controller in a format that can be easily read by machines.
  • Data Processor: An entity instructed by the data controller on how to handle personal data.
  • Data Subject Rights: The GDPR introduces new rights, including the right to be forgotten, data portability, and the right to object to profiling.
  • Personal Data: This can include a person's name, company address, company phone number, email address, and IP address.
  • Privacy by Design and Default: Companies are required to consider data privacy throughout the development process and implement sufficient privacy controls into all new features by default.

Impact of GDPR on Sales Teams

One of the most challenging aspects of the GDPR for businesses is the stringent requirement for individual consent. To process personal data of Europeans, marketers must establish a "legal basis." Two common legal bases include consent of the data subject and a "legitimate interest" that does not infringe upon the fundamental rights and freedoms of data subjects.

The GDPR recognizes "direct marketing" as a likely legitimate interest. However, marketing campaigns that are not tailored to be relevant to the data subject might not qualify as a legitimate interest. Therefore, it's increasingly important for marketers to use data wisely and tailor campaigns to be relevant. Remember, these regulations apply only to prospects located within the EU.

Adhering to GDPR: Best Practices

Ensuring GDPR compliance can be complex, particularly for companies that handle data in intricate ways. It requires robust data security measures, including encryption of user data and implementation of advanced data controls. Companies also need to establish data incident response processes and data recovery mechanisms.

GDPR sets out different requirements for "Processors" and "Controllers" of data. As a data controller, the company must manage the data it collects toensure it is compliant. It is also essential to educate everyone who uses this data to maintain their compliance.

Companies can offer users the option to exclude EU citizens to prevent accidentally sending them emails. This helps customers maintain compliance while prospecting without needing to sift through lists of prospects manually.

If a company collects personal data from EU citizens, it must be transparent about its intentions and secure consent before sending any information. It is also mandatory to provide an option for individuals to opt out of future communications.

Should a company possess contact information for EU citizens, it can enrich this data, for instance, by adding title and company information. However, this is only permissible if the enrichment serves to maintain data cleanliness or if the recipient has a demonstrated interest in receiving the information, such as details that could assist them in their job.

While companies can aid users with compliance, it is highly recommended that all customers familiarize themselves with the regulations and seek additional support from privacy advisors if any questions remain.


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), enacted by the European Union in 2016, is a vital regulation aimed at safeguarding the privacy rights of EU citizens in the digital realm. The regulation is broad in scope and can impact businesses worldwide, particularly those dealing with EU customers or monitoring their online behavior.

Understanding key GDPR terminologies such as data subject, data controller, data processor, and the concept of consent is crucial for compliance. Notably, the GDPR introduces stringent requirements for individual consent, which can pose challenges for businesses, especially sales and marketing teams.

Adherence to GDPR necessitates robust data security measures, including encryption of user data, advanced data controls, and data incident response processes. Companies operating as data controllers must manage the data they collect to ensure it aligns with GDPR standards.

Non-compliance with GDPR can result in substantial financial penalties. Therefore, it's essential for businesses to educate their teams about these regulations and, if needed, seek guidance from privacy advisors to ensure full understanding and adherence to GDPR rules.