What Does GDPR Mean For Companies Based Outside The EU?
The implications for companies based outside the EU are exactly the same as those for EU countries, if they process personal data from the EU. That’s because GDPR applies to the personal data of people based in the EU. If you want to process it, e.g. to sell to customers in the EU, you have to abide by the rules. Otherwise, you risk being fined, like Facebook and Google.
Here’s how that’s enforced: If you have a presence in the EU, as many multinationals do, and you don’t pay a GDPR fine, your EU assets may be seized. If you don’t have a presence, you’re obliged under GDPR to appoint a representative in the EU. Any fines will be levied through that representative. Alternatively, you may face a complex and expensive international lawsuit.
And here’s where it gets complex for everyone:
If your customer base includes people in the EU and citizens of other places with privacy laws, such as the State of California, you have to comply both with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and with GDPR. These batches of legislation generally align — but they don’t match.
Take cookies, for example. Under GDPR, you must get active consent from a user before you place a cookie on their device, bar those strictly needed for your site to function.
However, under the CCPA, you must disclose what data you’re collecting, and enable your customer to deny you permission to sell their data. But they don’t have to actively agree you can collect it.
That’s why the EU is pushing for international standards to simplify global compliance.
N.B. If you’re in the United States and eagerly awaiting the replacement to Privacy Shield, you might like to take a leaf from Microsoft’s book instead — they and others have stated they’ll comply with GDPR rather than depend on any bilateral mechanisms to enable data processing.
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The implications for companies based outside the EU are exactly the same as those for EU countries,