Proposals for major changes in data protection legislation are well underway in Europe. In America too, it’s only moving in one direction. Should we be concerned?Time was when only government departments and health professionals were concerned with data protection. Now, with our increasing reliance on online interaction in our social lives, education, shopping, travel and more, the need for data protection is essential. Digital has replaced the notebook by the phone. And, as independent vacation rental owners we are small businesses and data holders. This means we are subject to the increasingly strict laws around data protection. If you still jot down notes on the phone, beware: that qualifies as data and must also be protected.
More legislation on data protectionA recent blog by the ‘Masked Manager’ shows which way the wind is blowing. He predicts: ‘With concerns over global money laundering, storage of information and tax avoidance we will see much more legislation on data controls. We are already being asked for data on guests and owners from financial (and that means Govt.) institutions. ‘We are all legally obliged to follow the guidelines on this and heavy penalties can ensue. Everybody needs to ensure all data they hold is compliant with the rules and that all staff are aware of this.’
Tough new protection laws for EuropeIn Europe, more pressing changes are on the horizon. The 28 EU states have just agreed a framework for pan-European data privacy rules. This will mean that the same, tough, new protection laws will cover the whole of the EU. Currently, each member state has its own data protection laws and enforcement agencies. Among the proposals are large fines for non-implementation. Importantly, individuals will be allowed to sue data holders for misuse of their details. Some large companies have claimed that this will make their business impossible.
Time to adjustFortunately, there will be time to adjust, according to this report in The Guardian Technology. In it, one official estimate claims it will be at least another 2 years before implementation. Although the general thrust of the legislation is aimed at larger companies and organizations, smaller operators such as ourselves as independent vacation rental owners will not escape the strictures it will impose. Here in the UK, residents can get information and advice about current legislation on data protection from the UK government website/. Elsewhere, we found these helpful tips for data handling for UK residents. But they are relevant to anyone, anywhere in the world:
- Only collect information that you need for a specific purpose
- Keep it secure
- Ensure it is relevant and up to date
- Only hold as much as you need, and only for as long as you need it
- Allow the subject of the information to see it on request.