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6 min read

Writen by Ana Mishova

Posted on: June 7, 2023

Understanding GDPR Article 27 for US Companies

If your US business deals with clients or customers in the EU or UK, the chances are you’ll be bound by the EU and UK’s data privacy laws. That means you’ll need representatives in both territories to comply with your obligations under GDPR Article 27. Our GDPRLocal team explains what that means, and why it matters.

Data is one of the issues of our age. The collection of it. The analysis and use of it. And, for every individual who consents to its use, the protection of it. Protecting individuals’ privacy was the reason the EU introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018. Then, when the UK left the EU, it established its own GDPR which, for the time being at least, runs on roughly parallel tracks to its EU counterpart, with some modifications to align with the UK’s specific legal framework and requirements.

For US companies and any other organization outside the EU and UK, one of the most crucial elements of both GDPRs is Article 27. Article 27 establishes that any organization which handles the personal data of individuals within those borders must appoint a representative within the respective territories.

For US companies, the position is clear: if you offer goods or services to individuals in the EU or UK – or collect or process data relating to the behavior of individuals in the EU and UK – you need to comply with GDPR. If your activities only affect citizens of the EU, you need only comply with the EU GDPR. If your actions are limited to the UK, you’ll need to comply with UK GDPR (enshrined under UK law as the Data Protection Act 2018). If you collect or process the personal data of citizens in both territories, you’ll need to comply with both.

At present, those data privacy laws are very similar, like two trains running on parallel tracks. Yet even now, plans are progressing through the UK Parliament to begin the process of divergence. In time, the UK data privacy law may have a distinctly different flavor to its EU counterpart, and US businesses will need to understand and apply both regulations to remain compliant with data laws in each territory.

That’s why UK and EU GDPR representatives are increasingly invaluable.

What does a GDPR rep do?

For the moment, the role of a UK/European representative for GDPR is very similar. The representative acts as a point of contact for individuals and regulators within the UK or EU, but because the two entities are now legally separate, you will need a dedicated GDPR consultant for the EU and another for the UK.

The UK and EU representative for GDPR will effectively be your person ‘on the ground’ in those territories. They will understand how the data of local citizens flows through your organization. They will translate and log data requests from EU and UK citizens, and log and report any breaches. They will also be your partner, helping you understand your GDPR obligations, actions and impacts. These include getting appropriate consents, implementing necessary security measures and ensuring individuals are able to exercise their rights regarding their data.

What do US companies gain from being GDPR compliant?

The single biggest gain? You avoid a potentially enormous fine. GDPR may be a regulation (or two regulations) from the other side of the world, but if you want to trade with the UK or EU in any significant sense, you are probably bound by it.

Non-compliance can lead to big penalties, including fines of up to €20,000,000 and the reputational damage that can flow from being seen to break the trust of clients and consumers.

Beyond this, however, there are some significant advantages for US companies in being GDPR compliant:

  • By working with a GDPR consultancy on its data protection principles, any US company can strengthen its data security practices, reducing the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access.
  • As the UK and EU GDPR set high standards for data protection, organizations that comply with their requirements can gain a trusted reputation and competitive edge in the global marketplace.
  • Adhering to GDPR principles can help demonstrate a commitment to data privacy, which can attract customers who value that privacy. Not every US customer is concerned about the privacy of their data, but a significant proportion are, as this research demonstrates.
  • The GDPR has set a global precedent for data protection regulations. Many countries and regions, including the United States, have taken inspiration from the GDPR when developing their own privacy laws. By working with a UK or EU GDPR consultant to proactively adopt the regulations’ principles, you can position your organization for compliance with future privacy laws, both domestically and internationally.

Your UK or EU representative for GDPR is someone who can help fill your compliance gaps, so you don’t have to worry about whether you meet the relevant standards. They can help manage the challenging data privacy questions that may come from your EU/UK operations, so you don’t have to waste time and effort doing it. And they can help ensure you stay compliant because, as experts in their relevant territory, your UK/European GDPR representative can ensure you’re always ready for the changes that will inevitably occur.

GDPR consultancy services from GDPR Local

EU/UK GDPR Article 27 recognizes the global nature of data processing. It’s an acknowledgement that any attempt to protect citizens’ data rights needs to have an effect beyond geographical borders.

If you are trading – or planning to trade – with the UK or EU and need to ensure you are meeting your data protection obligations, explore our GDPR services.

Find the right Article 27 rep for you now, get data protection advice or, for questions about your next steps, call +1 303 317 5998.


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