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Understanding GDPR’s Impact on Event Data and Helpful Security Tips

When physical events around the world ground to a halt in 2020, organizers were forced to look for alternative options, leading to the rapid growth of virtual events. But complying with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is challenging to event organizers who aren’t as familiar with global data privacy laws.

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GDPR is a legal framework enforced by the European Union in 2018 which sets out mandatory rules on how companies can use EU citizens’ data. Any company that collects data from EU citizens is legally obliged to comply with GDPR, no matter where in the world that company is located.

As more events are held either fully or partially online, event analytics are helping planners to understand the success, shape user experience, drive engagement and personalize future events to each attendee’s preferences.

Ultimately, data is enhancing the virtual and hybrid events industry in forming the strategies and driving ROI. Yet, any event that attracts attendees from the EU must keep GDPR compliance in mind or face substantial financial penalties. Companies found to be non-compliant can be fined up to €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover (whichever is greater).

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When it comes to collecting, analyzing, and utilizing their event data, there are few areas to consider from a GDPR standpoint:

Event registration

Capturing data in the event registration form helps to build a database of all event attendees. Under GDPR, organizers need to keep in mind EU attendees’ Right to Privacy and must be selective about the information the form asks for.

Attendee consent

It’s crucial that organizers actively seek consent before any attendee data is collected. The agreement should be as easy to access and understand as possible for attendees.

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Data sharing

Event planners are obligated to disclose to attendees where their data is being shared for what purposes. They must also provide access to personal for any attendee that requests it and fulfill any attendee’s request to transfer it to another data controller.

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Data breaches

Cybercrime is an escalating issue, and event organizers must notify authorities and affected attendees of a data breach within 72 hours of becoming aware of it.

Opt-outs

Under the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ event, attendees have the power to opt out of marketing activities that use their personal data and can request that it is wiped from every database. Planners must honor these requests.

Essential GDPR security measures

In the age of GDPR, there are three essential security measures event organizers should consider:

  1. Regular security system checks and updates

Checking and applying software updates to security systems as regularly as possible will help to ensure vulnerabilities are mitigated, and the chances of a data breach are minimized.

  1. Regular audits and certifications

ISO 27001 certification helps to ensure that your IT systems are standardized and secure, making compliance much easier to achieve. Storing and processing data requires any business to follow other standards too. Each system you use to work with event data must adhere to these standards and comply with audits.

  1. Upgrading security systems

While we’ve already covered the importance of keeping security systems updated, event planners should also consider upgrading to new security systems when the budget allows. This means you will get the latest and greatest protection to help with compliance.

Looking ahead

As the events industry adapts to virtual and hybrid models, potential GDPR processes can be eased by following the advice issued in this article and choosing a platform with high-security standards. Setting up a security budget can help your events business manage data security and compliance regularly. The investment will be well worth it considering the alternative – should you fail to meet compliance – can be very costly indeed.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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