How Will GDPR Impact Event Planners, Their Suppliers and Event Attendees?

Editor's note: For background to this column, see Kevin Iwamoto's "Why May 25, 2018, Will Be a Game Changer" about the impending European Union General Data Protection Regulation.

One of the best General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) resources I've found for free as a download is from Eventsforce __ an e‐book titled The Event Planner's Guide to GDPR Compliance. Eventsforce is a cloud-based technology and services company that handles all aspects of the events lifecycle. You can learn more about them on their website:

In this great resource, they offer an easy-to-understand, bulleted list of what's changing for event planners and their tech-solution suppliers, as well as for the attendees who will now have greater say and ownership over their personal data currently used for meetings and events.

How will GDPR affect and impact event planners and their technology-solution partners? According to the Eventsforce e‐book:

Event planners and suppliers will have to demonstrate that:

  • They are keeping attendee personal data safe and secure;
  • They have appropriate data-management processes and controls in place;
  • They can respond to data access requests within 30 days at NO CHARGE;
  • They have ways of minimizing errors, correcting inaccuracies and deleting data;
  • They use data in a transparent, appropriate, fair and permitted way; and
  • They can respond within 72 hours in the event of a data breach.

Event attendees will now have the right to:

  • Access the personal data you hold on them for free;
  • Stop or restrict the processing of their data;
  • Know exactly how the data is being used;
  • Obtain and reuse their personal data;
  • Ask for errors to be rectified; and
  • Request the deletion of their data.

To be clear, here's how Data Subject Rights will change under GDPR effective May 25, 2018, in the European Union and the United Kingdom, according to the GDPR official website:

1) Breach Notification

Under the GDPR, breach notification will become mandatory in all member states where a data breach is likely to "result in a risk for the rights and freedoms of individuals." This must be done within 72 hours of first having become aware of the breach. Data processors also will be required to notify their customers, the controllers, "without undue delay" after first becoming aware of a data breach.

2) Right to Access

Part of the expanded rights outlined by the GDPR is the right for data subjects to obtain from the data controller confirmation as to whether or not personal data concerning them is being processed, where and for what purpose. Further, the controller shall provide a copy of the personal data, free of charge, in an electronic format. This change is a dramatic shift to data transparency and empowerment of data subjects.

3) Right to Be Forgotten

Also known as Data Erasure, the right to be forgotten entitles data subjects to have the data controller erase their personal data, cease further dissemination of the data and potentially have third parties halt processing of the data. The conditions for erasure, as outlined in article 17, include the data no longer being relevant to original purposes for processing, or a data subject's withdrawing consent. It should also be noted that this right requires controllers to compare the subject's rights to "the public interest in the availability of the data" when considering such requests.

4) Data Portability

GDPR introduces data portability __ the right for data subjects to receive the personal data concerning them, which they have previously provided in a "commonly used and machine-readable format" and have the right to transmit that data to another data controller.

5) Privacy by Design

Privacy by design as a concept has existed for years now, but it is only just becoming part of a legal requirement with the GDPR. At its core, privacy by design calls for the inclusion of data protection from the onset of the designing of systems, rather than an addition. More specifically, "The data controller shall implement appropriate technical and organizational measures in an effective way in order to meet the requirements of this regulation and protect the rights of data subjects." Article 23 calls for controllers to hold and process only the data absolutely necessary for the completion of its duties (data minimization), as well as limiting the access to personal data to those needing to act out the processing.

6) Data-Protection Officers

DPO appointment will be mandatory only for those data controllers and processors whose core activities consist of processing operations that require regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale or of special categories of data or data relating to criminal convictions and offences. Importantly, the DPO:

  • Must be appointed on the basis of professional qualities and, in particular, expert knowledge on data protection law and practices;
  • May be a staff member or an external service provider;
  • Contact details must be provided to the relevant DPO;
  • Must be provided with appropriate resources to carry out their tasks and maintain their expert knowledge;
  • Must report directly to the highest level of management; and
  • Must not carry out any other tasks that could results in a conflict of interest.

In summary, if you are still thinking that all this noise about GDPR doesn't affect or impact your events or strategic meetings management program, think again. The language on the GDPR website says: "GPDR makes its applicability very clear __ it will apply to the processing of personal data by controllers and processors in the European Union, regardless of whether the processing takes place in the EU or not. The GDPR will also apply to the processing of personal data of data subjects in the EU by a controller or processor not established in the EU, where the activities relate to: offering goods or services to EU citizens (irrespective of whether payment is required) and the monitoring of behavior that takes place within the EU. Non‐EU businesses processing the data of EU citizens will also have to appoint a representative in the EU."

Better to review what, how and who is handling attendee personal data for your events and make the required GDPR changes in your processes, programs and data handling than to take a chance.

Kevin Iwamoto is senior consultant at GoldSpring Consulting. You can follow him on Twitter @KevinIwamoto.