Do you ever stop to consider how much of your personal information you have shared with organisations, from GP surgeries to online retailers?
It’s possible that you give out your name, address, email and phone number without a second thought. It’s equally possible that you provide financial information online reluctantly after seeing some of the recent headlines about cybercrime and hacking.
All of this is highly relevant if you are considering a career in business management or accountancy. The subject of data protection is one that will feature heavily in your degree studies, particularly as new wide sweeping legislation is on the way.
The EU General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect in 2018, replacing existing legislation. It goes into a great deal more depth than previous laws, providing the general public with a lot more protection for how personal information can be collected, stored and used.
It provides even more watertight rules for sharing and disposing of personal data, forcing companies to be extremely transparent and accountable. Organisations won’t even be allowed to hold your information unless they prove you are making an informed decision and you know exactly what the information will be used for.
If you are considering doing an accountancy or business degree, or indeed if you are in your degree final year, you will find the GDPR is highly significant. It will impact on procedures and systems far more than its predecessors.
Non-compliance brings with it hefty fines. Your future employers must take robust measures to meet its rulings regardless of Brexit, as it covers all businesses that hold data on EU citizens. Therefore, few British companies will be exempt.
Accountants in particular hold sensitive data on their clients. But many businesses will need to audit and tighten up data protection systems. This includes having water tight procedures for such things as consumer loyalty schemes.
The GDPR is particularly designed to plug the huge increase in data breaches – which rose by a shocking 475% in 2016.
It mandates that companies have to encrypt all information they hold on customers and clients – and give pseudonyms to hide identities. In this way, if there is a leak or a malicious hacking incident, the information is useless to whoever acquires it.
This means a lot of work for accountants and all other businesses. They need to create systems to encrypt data, but also choose and train the staff who will have access to information. They must ensure the encryption key is in safe hands and information can be turned back into usable data in an auditable way.
This is just a brief summary of the impact of the GDPR. It is one of the fascinating global business developments you will study on a relevant course at Mont Rose College in Ilford. Studying at this college in London will put you at the heart of new business trends.