BUSINESSES in Northern Ireland which handle data should be preparing for significant legal changes coming their way next year, regardless of the situation around Brexit.
That was the key message from Dr Ken McDonald, head of regions for the Information Commissioner’s Office, in an address to chief executives and chief accounting officers from both private and public sector organisations at a breakfast briefing in the Europa Hotel hosted by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants Ireland (CIMA).
The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in May next year, and CIMA held the joint event with the Chief Executives' Forum to highlight the challenges facing organisations.
CIMA Ireland head Roger Acton said: “The forum seeks to bring the most challenging issues facing senior leaders to the fore. This topic is high on the agenda of our members who turned out in force to hear Dr McDonald speak.
"The new accountability principle in GDPR will require controllers to be able to demonstrate compliance and that risk assessments should start now.
"With fines up to £20 million or 4 per cent of global turnover, the cost of not getting one’s house in order is very high,” he added.
Dr McDonald emphasised the reputational impact as well as the potential financial damage of getting it wrong, urging business to prepare now for the changes with the help of the ICO’s 12-step guide to GDPR which is available on its website.