By now, you’ve almost certainly heard of the EU’s new data protection regulation, the GDPR. It is a positive framework empowering you to take back control of your personal information, and to make informed decisions about how your data is being used.
Under the GDPR, both private companies — such as Facebook, Microsoft, Dropbox, Amazon, or Spotify — and government bodies are obligated to protect your personal data, and to help you exercise your rights. The law protects EU citizens around the world and anyone located in the EU, regardless of where they’re from.
In theory, that sounds great. But actually exercising your rights can feel daunting. To help make the process more accessible, Access Now has put together A User Guide to Data Protection in the European Union – Your Rights and How to Exercise Them for internet users.
You can also download a printable version.
The guide provides a step-by-step explanation of each of your rights under the GDPR, covering the right to know how your data is being used, the right to know what information is being held and make changes to that record, the right to have your data erased, to prevent further data collection, and more.
It also outlines simple steps for putting those rights into action with the organizations holding your data, and resources for taking legal action if you feel your rights are not being properly respected.
In today’s digital environment, we each generate vast amounts of personal data, capturing every detail of our personal, professional, and public lives. When that information is not properly handled, it can seriously undermine our privacy. At an individual level, that can limit our willingness to speak out, prevent us from exploring new or controversial ideas, and even put us at risk of physical harm. And at scale, undermining our privacy rights also undermines the health of our democracies.
The GDPR is an important step toward defending privacy in Europe and around the world, but it is just a tool, and it cannot fully protect our rights unless we each use it.
By exploring our GDPR guide and taking a few steps to regain control over your own information, you can not only make yourself more secure, but will also be playing an important role in the fight to advance privacy and data protections everywhere.
For our part, Access Now has worked with lawmakers in Europe at every stage of the GDPR’s development, from its introduction, through five years of debate, to its adoption and entering into force this year. These protections for your personal data have been a long time coming, and we hope this guide will help you to take full advantage of all the law has to offer.