Blog – Reputation Matters

Do we have to have a Data Protection Policy?

There is no specific legal requirement to have a data protection policy under the Data Protection Act 2018 or the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).  However, there are some areas where such a document could prove useful.

Documentation

The GDPR contains explicit provisions about documenting your processing activities:

  • You must maintain records on several things such as processing purposes, data sharing and retention.
  • Documentation can help you comply with other aspects of the GDPR and improve your data governance.
  • For small and medium-sized organisations, documentation requirements are limited to certain types of processing activities.

Transparency

In addition, individuals have the right to be informed about the collection and use of their personal data. This is a key transparency requirement under GDPR. You must provide individuals with information including:

  • your purposes for processing their personal data,
  • your retention periods for that personal data, and
  • who it will be shared with

This is called ‘privacy information’. (Some businesses give this information in a “Privacy Policy” found on many websites.)

You must provide privacy information to individuals at the time you collect their personal data from them.

If you obtain personal data from other sources, you must provide individuals with privacy information within a reasonable period of obtaining the data and no later than one month.

Using Data Processors

As well as imposing a legal obligation on data controllers (the owner of the data), to formalise their working relationship with data processors in a written contract, they are also responsible for assessing that the processor is competent to process personal data in line with the GDPR’s requirements. Part of this process is to ask to see relevant documentation, such as their privacy policy, record management policy and information security policy.

Respond to regulatory regimes

The regulators’ purpose is to ensure there is a level playing field and protect the weaker party in any transaction (which is usually the client/customer).

If a regulator has cause to investigate a business, they will try to demonstrate insufficient control over business processes.

It makes sense to be in a position to show that you have done everything possible to comply and that you carry out checks to make sure that your procedures work.

That way the regulator will be more likely to help resolve compliance failures, rather than take enforcement action which can prove costly for a business.

Network referrals

When seeking referrals off people in my networking group, what information is safe to gather? So, let’s say, for example, I ask Bob for referrals of our ideal client. Bob knows somebody who may be interested in our service – so passes us their contact details. Is this safe?

Samuel Poole Marketing Communications Manager Syn-Star Complete I.T. Solutions

Great question, actually in Data Protection terms it is not safe to do this unless certain things are in place.

Essentially when dealing with personal information such as contact details the person who decides what to do with the information is a data controller, in this case, Bob.

The data controller has to “process” personal data fairly (processing includes passing it to a third party i.e. you). They also have to have one of six lawful reasons to be able to process the data. The most appropriate one of which in these circumstances is the consent of the data subject. This has to be GDPR compliant consent i.e. given freely, not under duress and in full knowledge of what they are consenting to.

The data controller also has to give “privacy information” explaining how the subjects data will be used. There are specific things that have to be included in this information which often takes the form of a notice, but can also be given verbally depending on the circumstances.

It is incumbent on you to check that the necessary consent is in place for the use you wish to make of the data before acting on it.

Of course, once the information comes into your hands for marketing purposes you become a data controller, in addition, you will need to comply with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regs in relation to electronic marketing messages (phone, fax, email or text).

Governance

The system of rules, practices and procedures by which a business is directed and controlled.

It essentially involves balancing the interests of a business’s many stakeholders, including shareholders, owners, management, employees, customers, suppliers, financiers, government and the community.

This may include policies on:

  • ethical trading
  • social responsibility and
  • carbon reduction.

Dealing with such things as:

  • regulatory compliance e.g. the Provision of Services Regulations;
  • supplier payments and
  • credit control and debt management including late or non-payment of invoices.

Trading Disclosure and Business Names

Your clients have a legal right to know who they are dealing with (i.e the legal entity that they are trading with).

If you use a name to trade under other than that of the legal entity, then you need to disclose the full details of the legal entity including an address where you will accept service of documents.

For corporate bodies, there are specific disclosure requirements.

All of this needs to go on business documents including letters and emails and websites amongst other things.

Legal Entity

An association, corporation, partnership, proprietorship, trust, or individual that has legal standing in the eyes of law. A legal entity has the legal capacity to enter into agreements or contracts, assume obligations, incur and pay debts, sue and be sued in its own right, and to be held responsible for its actions.

Business Names

There are specific requirements relating to the name a business wishes to trade under and rules to prevent the use of misleading names. Business names must not:

  • be the same as an existing trademark
  • include ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’
  • contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression unless you get permission

There are requirements about the details business have to disclose to their customers:

  • An individual trading under a name which is not their surname, with or without initials, has to give their name and an address at which the service of documents will be accepted;
  • Partnerships that use a name other than the surnames, with or without initials, of the individual partners, have to give the names of all the partners and an address at which the service of documents will be accepted; and
  • Incorporated bodies such as limited liability companies or partnerships (Ltd and LLP) have to make Trading Disclosures.

What are Trading Disclosures?

This is the term used in the Companies Act 2006 to cover the rules about the information companies must provide.

The Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008

These Regulations deal with trading disclosures to be made by companies registered in any part of the United Kingdom.

The disclosures have to be made at certain locations (the registered office and other places of business), in company documentation e.g. letters (including electronic equivalents e.g. emails) and on company websites.

The Regulations also require companies to respond to enquiries about where their company records are kept available for inspection.

Reputation Advocates Top Tips for 2019 Steve Thomson, Profile Training

My top tip for presentations or pitches:

Feelings Beat Facts.

How people feel after you’ve presented is much more important than any details or data. No one will remember your graph when they leave, but they’ll all remember how you made them feel.

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