What is EU-US Privacy Shield?

If you sell goods in your online stores overseas in the European Union, you may have heard of the EU-US Privacy Shield, a framework meant to help protect the data of EU citizens whenever it’s sent to the US. Your online store must be compliant with this framework, which require you to offer certain protections to your customer’s personal info, as well as swift responses to customer complaints.

What’s the difference between Privacy Shield and GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a law governing the privacy of personal data on the web as it relates to EU residents. Privacy Shield is a framework US businesses must follow in order to meet the regulations detailed in the GDPR. Think of Privacy Shield as the “means” and compliance with GDPR as the “end.”

Who needs to use Privacy Shield?

Any online store that sells products to customers in the EU should leverage the Privacy Shield to ensure they’re compliant with the overseas regulations. Failure to follow these regulations can result in massive fines, with as much as 4% of annual revenue at stake for businesses caught violating the law.

How does Privacy Shield help with GDPR compliance?

The Privacy Shield framework guidelines are as follows.

  • Companies should only collect relevant information about customers. Any data collection that isn’t done for a legitimate business reason should be stopped.
  • Your online store should very clearly detail the type of data you collect and the reason you collect that data. It helps to offer your customers a clear opt-out option if they don’t want you to collect a specific type of data.
  • You have a responsibility to ensure any information you transfer to an outside company is used within the guidelines of the laws.
  • Your customers should be able to easily have their information scrubbed from your systems.
  • You should have a clear path of escalation for privacy complaints. Many companies specifically appoint a privacy officer to handle these complaints in a timely manner.
  • You must continue to comply with all regulations and report certain information after you’ve withdrawn from the Privacy Shield.

How do you become Privacy Shield certified?

All you have to do is register to be on the Privacy Shield list. It’s crucial to make sure you assess your policies and security before you do so.

According to the European Commission, the US Department of Commerce is responsible for conducting reviews of participating businesses to make sure they’re compliant. Customers in the EU also get unprecedented ability to contact companies themselves to resolve privacy complaints. Make sure your support team is prepped to handle these kinds of requests.

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