This weekend we see the anniversary of GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation, which came into force on 25-5-18. The legislation has influenced a huge step-change in the way data protection is viewed, not only by law firms, but by all kinds of businesses, and also by the general public.
There is no denying the run up to the launch of GDPR, which had a two-year consultation period, was seen by many as a ‘bumpy road’. Leading practice management software supplier, Select Legal Systems Limited, authors of LAWFUSION, have seen this first-hand working closely with their law firm clients and prospects.
Joanne Hunter, Head of Marketing for Select Legal said, “Taking time to study the principles of the regulation, the rights of data subjects and the legal grounds for processing personal data demanded a lot of law firm time and resources. The lengths firms have had to go to to reach a point where they could confidently put in place a robust policy to achieve GDPR compliance have not been insignificant. We have worked very closely with law firms to build a set of software tools that enable firms to record and manage their GDPR compliance within their Practice Management System. These tools are available to any law firm that has the latest version of LAWFUSION.”
A year on it’s clear to see public awareness of data protection issues has never been higher. Many people are at the very least understanding their rights far better than ever before, and some are starting to freely and confidently exercise those rights.
Speaking at a conference in Berlin last week, Steve Wood, the Deputy Commissioner for Policy from the ICO (the UK organisation responsible for enforcing GDPR), said, “The next phase is enforcement and we are confident that the ICO and colleagues at the EDPB (European Data Protection Board) will deliver. The ICO recently announced its first action, ordering HMRC, the UK tax authority, to delete 5 million voice records that had been collected without valid consent. Watch this space for further announcements soon.”
The ICO is currently an active member of the EDBP (European Data Protection Board) and look set to remain so despite the outcome of Brexit. So there is clear evidence that GDPR is here to stay and will only get tougher. Law firms need to continue their GDPR efforts, and for those that haven’t embraced GDPR fully as yet, it is now a matter of urgency.
The digital economy (or ‘flat white economy’ as it is now often referred to) is booming and as reported by Bloomberg and others of late it is fast becoming the UK’s largest economic sector. With a boom of this nature of course come many great opportunities, but also risks to personal data and privacy. For these reasons, legislators around the world are not likely to take their eye off the ball. There is clear evidence that the kind of changes that have taken place in the UK and Europe with regard to data protection are also happening in many other countries across the globe. Data protection is now a global matter and must be taken seriously by all businesses.
In the run up to GDPR Select Legal Systems published a GDPR white paper written especially for law firms – ‘Do you have all your GDPR Ducks in a row?’ – a must read for any law firm with GDPR concerns.
LAWFUSION is the legal practice management system of choice for hundreds of UK law firms. It includes a wide range of modules covering every aspect of legal practice, including a GDPR module. For more information about the GDPR Module or any other aspect of the LAWFUSION software, please call 01482 567601 during office hours. Outside of normal working hours our online enquiry form is always available on our website.