7 min read

Writen by Ana Mishova

Posted on: July 19, 2023

Why Your US Business Needs an EU GDPR Representative in 2023

Think complying with the EU GDPR is all burden and no benefit? Our Compliance experts explain the value of appointing a GDPR rep.

If you know about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) at all, you’ll know it as a European regulation that has revolutionized data protection practices since it came into force in May 2018. The United States is not directly subject to the GDPR. It wasn’t party to its enactment. It had no role in the regulation’s development. And yet, if your business collects, stores or uses the data of European citizens, you are probably bound by it. That means you need to work with an EU GDPR representative to ensure you meet your obligations under it.

Benefit, not burden

It’s all too easy to think of compliance as a red tape exercise that places burdens and restrictions on your business without ever offering any benefits. Certainly, US organizations cannot overlook the importance of complying with the EU GDPR. Yet it’s worth remembering the many benefits that can stem from getting your compliance right.

Why your US business needs an EU GDPR representative in 2023

If you collect, store or process the data of EU residents to any significant degree, you’ll either need a presence on the ground in at least one of the EU member states in which you are active, or you’ll need to work with a GDPR consultancy and GDPR rep who can act for you. The benefits include:

  • Avoiding risk, reputational damage and fines

Even though the GDPR is an EU regulation, its extraterritorial scope affects businesses worldwide. If your company processes the personal data of EU citizens, you need to align with the GDPR requirements. Appointing a GDPR rep demonstrates your commitment to international data protection standards, enhancing your reputation as a responsible and trustworthy organization.

Rather more urgently, making a GDPR EU representative part of your team is an essential first step to protecting your business from the reputational damage of non-compliance and potentially enormous fines which can reach €20 million or 4% of your global turnover, whichever is higher.

  • Building trust with EU customers and partners

It may be unfair, but the perception exists among some overseas consumers that US companies have a rather more relaxed attitude to data protection than their European counterparts. It’s a view driven, in part, by the lack of formal legislation in the US, but also by ongoing headlines reflecting Americans’ perceived lack of control over their data.

By appointing a European representative for GDPR, your business shows its dedication to protecting the privacy and personal data of EU citizens. This commitment fosters trust among EU customers and partners who have an expectation that you will protect their data as securely as any European organization.

That also gives you a competitive edge among your US peers and helps open up opportunities for collaboration and expansion into the EU market.

  • Communicating with EU supervisory authorities

If your business suffers a data breach which affects your EU customers, you’ll need to inform and liaise with EU authorities. This is when having an EU GDPR representative becomes crucial. The GDPR rep serves as a point of contact for EU supervisory authorities, but also supports your handling of the event.

The rep’s involvement ensures that you act swiftly, respond promptly, and maintain lines of communication that can minimize damage and potential legal risks of non-compliance.

  • Facilitating data subjects’ rights

If a customer in France or Germany contacted you tomorrow to ask you to amend the data you hold about them, would you know what to do and how to do it?

The GDPR grants EU residents enhanced rights over their personal data. They can ask to access it, change it, challenge it and even delete it. By appointing a GDPR EU representative, you ensure that when an EU citizen (the data subject) submits a request, that request is logged, translated and dealt with in a compliant way, all of which protects your business and strengthens its reputation and trust with your customers.

  • Preparing for data reforms; meeting shifting consumer attitudes

There’s no question that, compared to the demands of the EU GDPR, the US treats data protection with a relatively light touch. Yet as AI becomes ever more commonplace, it is likely that the US’ position will shift and that laws will toughen.  

Already, we know US consumers are becoming more aware about the value of their data and the importance of its privacy. We know that, given the choice, 93% of US citizens would switch their custom to privacy-conscious organizations. It is foreseeable that the United States may introduce comprehensive federal data protection legislation to reflect this shifting sentiment. By appointing an EU GDPR consultant now and complying with EU law, your business can prepare itself for potential future data protection reforms in the US.

Not only will you be able to use the experience gained from complying with the GDPR as a foundation for adapting to future regulatory requirements (putting you ahead of your competitors), you’ll also be able to leverage growing data protection awareness to build brand loyalty.

  • More than compliance

In 2023, the significance of the GDPR extends far beyond Europe’s borders. It impacts businesses worldwide, including those in the United States. By appointing an EU representative for GDPR, your organization demonstrates its commitment to international data protection standards. It builds trust with EU customers and partners. It ensures effective communication with EU supervisory authorities. And it protects your organization against risk and damage.

Appoint an EU GDPR consultant and you get a whole lot more than basic compliance.

Find the right EU GDPR consultant for you now, get data protection advice or, for questions about your next steps, call us on +1 303 317 5998.

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