GDPR stands for general data protection regulation. It was enacted by the European Union to protect data privacy. It is considered to be the strongest data privacy or data protection laws in the world. These laws apply to any business big or small inside or outside of Europe that processes or controls any personal data that originated in the European Union.
GDPR applies to the data of residents or even just visitors. Any businesses that offer services or that monitor the behavior of Europe are subject to GDPR laws. If a companies website has a tool that captures information about people that are visiting, or people in Europe who are visiting the website, a company should be compliant under GDPR.
To combat this some websites that were based outside of the EU stopped allowing visitors from Europe access to their site because they were worried about compliance and fines. Many companies decided to deny access to all Europe based IP addresses.
It is important to have a good understanding and to be conscious of the regulations because rules apply to any and all companies that process personal data of people inside the EU, whether or not the company is located within the European Union, or not.
A good example of this one I think is a lead generation tool that a company might have on their website. Even if the company is a U.S.-based company if its website is collecting personal data about the people that visit or live within the EU, GDPR would apply to them. It is safe to say that anyone that has a website, should be conscious of the regulations and trying to make sure that they comply.
How is GDPR different from regulations like CCPA and SOC2?
The biggest difference between GDPR and CCPA is that GDPR is that it applies to a much broader group of people. The only people that need to comply with CCPA are for-profit companies that operate in California and meet certain criteria that do business with citizens of California. So it's sort of narrow. Whereas GDPR is much broader and it can apply to people in Europe and the United States, anyone who is collecting or processing data of European citizens or residents.
Penalties are also different. CCPA violations carry a $750 per violation, whereas GDPR fines can be up to 4% of the company's annual gross revenue or 20 million euros, whichever is greater. With GDPR, a company can also be fined for data breaches or noncompliance. So the CCPA, a company is only fined if there's a breach.
With SOC2 the main difference is that GDPR is a law and legally enforceable. SOC2 is not legally required. Many businesses still want to be SOC2 compliant. However, being SOC2 compliant can gain trust with customers. Sometimes it's a requirement on vendor contracts but it is not legally required.