How does the GDPR affect email?

GDPR focuses on protection of personal data of EU residents. Personal data is any information that can explicitly or implicitly identify an individual.

This may include: name location addresses (mail, email, IP, etc.) bank details gender religious beliefs ethnicity political opinion biometric data web cookies contacts device IDs and pseudonymous data.

To protect any sort of personal information of an individual, GDPR lays our many rules and regulations. Even emails come under GDPR regulation and it says that an email is a valuable asset that must be in compliance with GDPR requirements.

As email conversation contains names, email addresses, and much more, GDPR need companies to protect this personal data of individuals. From names and email addresses to attachments and conversations about people, all could be covered by the GDPR’s strict new requirements on data protection.

GDPR regulations on email requirements focuses on factors like email encryption and email safety. Below we’ll explain what the GDPR actually says and what it means for email.

GDPR Encryption and Security

What the GDPR says

GDPR says that all the personal information of any EU residents must be protected by all those organizations that collect, store of use their data. Article 5 of the GDPR lists the regulations of data protection you must adhere to, including the adoption of appropriate technical measures to secure data. Encryption and pseudonymization are listed in the law as examples of technical measures that companies can use to lower the risk of the damage in the event of a data breach.

What it means for email:

Encryption is the best way to protect the data that is shared, transferred and sent through emails. Email encryption technology has developed quickly, and several organizations now offer end-to-end encrypted email service. Not only the Encryption is important but companies can develop other security tools to reach appropriate data security practices when they send data through emails.

Also data removal is a large part of the GDPR. Data removal is among one of those six data protection principles that says unneeded data should be deleted by companies when they think that data is no more needed. Data removal is also one of the personal rights protected by the GDPR in Article 17.

According to GDPR policies, companies needs to periodically review their companies email retention policy and should delete the amount of data your employees store in their mailboxes.

To comply with GDPR, organizations are required to protect the data that is sent through emails and that data should also be deleted after sometime when it is no more required. Also, it’s important for companies to educate their team about email safety. Encryption and two-factor authentication are good options for companies to protect data and comply with the GDPR.


How US Companies Are Becoming GDPR Compliant

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was enforced in European Union to protect the data of EU residents. This law states that not only the organizations that are based in EU but also those that are based outside EU have to comply with GDPR if they have access or process the data of EU residents.  

Illustration of “compliant document” with words “Are you GDPR compliant?”

If an organization fails to comply with GDPR then they have to pay heavy fines which can reach 4% of global revenue or €20 million, depending on the severity and circumstances of the violation.

Why US companies must comply with the GDPR?

Since the law clearly states that any organization or company that process the data of any person in the EU, including citizens, residents, and even, perhaps, visitors have to comply with GDPR, it is necessary for US companies to comply with the GDPR if they process the data of EU residents. The purpose of this law is to protect the personal data of EU citizens. The data could be in the form of email addresses in a marketing list or the IP addresses of those who visit your website. To ease the probability of any fine or GDPR violation, it is necessary for U.S companies to comply with GDPR.

This GDPR compliance checklist covers tips specifically for US companies.

  • Conduct an information audit for EU personal data

Check if your company needs to comply with the GDPR. Audit whatpersonal data you process and whether any of it belongs to people in the EU.  Please read article 23 of GDPR to clarify whether your activities qualify as subject to the GDPR or not.

  • Inform your customers why you’re processing their data

The GDPR gives individuals the right to know that you are collecting their personal data, and how you will use it, how long you will keep it, and with whom you will share it.

  • Know what to do if there is a data breach

GDPR article 33 and 34 has mentioned the guidelines that need to be followed in the event if personal data is exposed. The use of strong encryption can alleviate your exposure to penalties and decrease your notification obligations if there’s a data breach.

  • Designate a representative in the European Union

According to the article 27 of GDPR, non EU organizations are required to appoint a representative based in one of the EU member states.

  • Comply with cross-border transfer laws (if applicable)

According to previous European Union specification on the transfer of personal data to non-EU countries, GDPR Article 45 put some tough requirements for companies wishing to do so.