How Does GDPR Affect B2B Data?
GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation, which is the most stringent security and privacy law in the world. Although it has been drafted and passed by the EU, the obligations of GDPR are imposed on businesses around the world.
With that being said, it is imperative to understand GDPR and how it pertains to your business. So, let’s dig a little bit deeper in this post.
The Seven Principles of GDPR
There are seven key principles that are set out in the GDPR:
- Transparency, fairness, and lawfulness
- Purpose limitation
- Confidentiality and integrity
- Data minimization
- Storage limitation
These principles lie at the heart of GDPR. They are established right at the beginning of the legislation, and they inform everything that follows.
They do not present hard and fast rules. They embody the spirit of the GDPR. Compliance with these principles is, therefore, a critical building block when it comes to effective data protection practices at your business.
Is GDPR a concern for B2B businesses?
If you run a B2B business, you may assume that GDPR is not something you need to worry about. After all, you handle business-to-business transactions, rather than consumer-to-business transactions. However, it is not that simple.
GDPR does apply to B2B businesses! If you are processing any sort of personal data, GDPR is applicable.
So, what is personal data? This is any sort of data that enables you to identify a person, either directly or indirectly.
Personal data can be anything that makes a person identifiable. Good examples include personal email addresses, IP addresses, phone numbers, and names.
Can I still utilize B2B data under the GDPR?
When the GDPR first came about, a lot of sales teams around the globe worried that cold outreach had ended once and for all.
Successful outbound sales teams need to have a good source of B2B data. If you are not able to use this data, it will hurt you. Luckily, this is not the case.
However, you will need to make sure you treat personal data with care to make sure you are compliant with the GDPR. Here are some questions we recommend asking yourself:
Who are you contacting?
You do not need to fret about GDPR if you are not contacting anyone situated within the EU. However, do make sure you are CASL and CAN-SPAM compliant.
Nevertheless, if you are contacting anyone situated in the EU, you need to ensure that you are compliant with GDPR. This is applicable even if your business is not situated in the EU.
There are limitations in terms of who you can contact. If you sell to other companies, there should be no significant problems here. However, if you are selling to partnerships or sole traders, there are rules you need to adhere to.
- Contacting people within companies – If you contact people on their individual business emails, you need to adhere to GDPR.
- Contacting partnerships and sole traders – If you contact partnerships or sole traders, you need to adhere to GDPR. You can only call, text, or email them if they have given you explicit consent for you to do so.
How do you source data?
You also need to make sure that you are sourcing data appropriately. If you collect data in-house yourself, verification is imperative to make sure your data sourcing process is GDPR compliant.
You should review the tools you are utilizing to collate data and verify that you are storing it in a secure manner once the data has been controlled.
If you use a third-party data supplier, you should verify that their data is compliant with GDPR. A key part of the GDPR is protecting personal data, and you must make sure you are handling it with care.
Important B2B GDPR marketing considerations
There are a number of different things that need to be considered when it comes to GDPR for businesses. This includes the following:
- If your data processing activities are not occasional or your business has more than 250 workers, you need to make sure you keep and maintain extensive and fully up-to-date records of the particular data processing activities you are carrying out.
- If you depend on consent, the person has the right to withdraw their consent at any moment. If consent is withdrawn, you need to stop processing the data.
- If you depend on legitimate interest for direct marketing and someone objects, you need to stop processing this data immediately.
Applying GDPR to your B2B emails
Before you send a cold email, you need to verify that you are permitted to contact this person under the GDPR. There are six ways you can establish a lawful basis to process someone’s personal data. These are as follows:
- Consent – The person has provided you with clear consent for you to process their personal data for a specific purpose.
- Contract – Data processing is vital for a contract you have with a person or because they have asked you to take certain steps prior to entering into a contract.
- Legal obligation – You need to process the data to comply with the law.
- Vital interests – Data processing is required for the purpose of protecting someone’s life.
- Public tasks – Data processing is needed for you to perform a task for your official functions or in the public interest, and the function or task has an evident basis in law.
- Legitimate interest – You must process data for your legitimate interests or a third party’s legitimate interests unless there is good reason for the personal data of the individual to be protected, which will override those legitimate interests.
It is the latter – legitimate interest – that you should rely on when you send a cold email to a business email address, for example, na**@bu******.com.
As per legitimate interest, data must be used in a manner that people reasonably expect it to be used while also having minimal privacy impact. In situations whereby a person’s individual rights would be breached, their rights will override your legitimate interest.
In more simple terms, you need to ensure that you are emailing the right people with a message that they will be interested in hearing.
Alternatively, if you have received verifiable consent from a sign-up form, you will be just fine!
However, you should note that the decisions in terms of what legal basis is applicable can be difficult, and as a consequence, it is always a wise idea to consult with a legal professional in this regard.
It is also imperative to bear in mind that if an email address is not tied to one specific person, for example, in**@bu******.com, it may even fall out of the scope of “personal data.”
Complying with GDPR at your B2B business
There are a number of different steps you can take to adhere to GDPR at your business, including the following:
- Manage consent in a compliant manner and keep valid records of consent
- Keep valid records of all data processing activities, for example, internal records of processing
- Review your systems for honoring GDPR user rights
- Identify and/or review your legal basis for personal data processing, ideally with the assistance of a legal professional
- Apply data minimization as a principle – the more kinds of data your process, the bigger the risk, so you need to strategize and plan with risk in mind
What happens if you do not comply with GDPR?
You may be wondering what would happen if you simply decided not to comply with GDPR. Quite simply, non-compliance should never be an option.
The consequences of non-compliance can be a fine of four percent of your yearly global turnover or $20 million, whichever is greater.
Not all infringements of GDPR result in fines. Sanctions can include liability damages, official reprimands, and periodic audits of data protection, which could cause you to be barred from utilizing data associated with the violation, including complete email lists.
Final words on GDPR for B2B organizations
So there you have it: everything that you need to know about GDPR and how this applies to B2B organizations.
If you are handling any sort of personal information, you need ot make sure that you adhere to the rules and guidelines that have been established under GDPR.
Just because your customers are businesses does not mean you won’t be handling personal information. You may have individual contact names or payment information for individual accounts, and all of this needs to be handled in accordance with GDPR. So, you must put processes in place for this.