By Davy Karkason
Founding Attorney

Different countries often have various laws regarding data privacy. This is why it’s so important to understand which laws you are governed by in order to comply with them. For instance, the European Union’s (EU) data laws, which are strict, may apply to a U.S. company – even if you are not headquartered in the EU. Here’s what international businesses should know about data privacy in the EU.

There’s no doubt that we’re living in a digital world. Therefore, data privacy has become an increasing concern for individuals and businesses. The EU has far-reaching data protection laws that can greatly impact international businesses that are operating within the EU or even those businesses that are simply processing the data of EU residents.

General Data Protection Regulation

In May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced as the primary law governing data privacy within the EU. Put simply, the GDPR synchronizes the data protection laws across EU member states and establishes specific standards for how personal data is collected, processed, and stored. It also covers issues such as:

  • Purpose limitation;
  • Accuracy;
  • Data minimization; and
  • Confidentiality.

International Businesses and GDPR

Even international businesses that are outside of the EU may still have to comply with the GDPR if they meet one of the following:

  • They offer goods or services to EU residents;
  • They monitor the behavior of EU residents; and/or
  • They process the personal data of EU residents.

The Rights of Data Subjects

One of the biggest issues that the GDPR tackles is for businesses to obtain valid consent prior to any data processing. In other words, the GDPR requires that businesses receive informed, specific, and freely given consent. Individuals are also entitled to access, correct, delete, and restrict or object to processing.

Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs)

The GDPR uses data protection impact assessments, commonly referred to as DPIAs in order to conduct systematic assessments of activities related to data processing in order to minimize privacy risks. International businesses should also leverage DPIAs when conducting higher-risk processing operations as this shows their intention to uphold the protection of data.

Cross-Border Data Transfers

Under the GDPR, there are requirements for transferring personal data outside of the EU. Before transferring data to countries outside of the EU, international businesses should first ensure that they are using standard contractual clauses, binding corporate rules, and/or certification mechanisms.

Data Breaches

Under the GDPR, international businesses must report personal data breaches immediately to the relevant supervisory authority. They should also have an in-depth incident response plan in order to detect, investigate, and notify authorities and those whose information has been breached.


If a business fails to comply with the GDPR, they can face serious penalties, such as a fine of up to 4% of the business’ global annual turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher.

Since data privacy regulations are complicated and rapidly evolving, it’s in an international business’ best interest to consult with a qualified attorney who specializes in such matters. He or she can assess the business’ compliance, implement necessary privacy measures, and provide any needed guidance for your successful operation.

U.S. Counsel Services for Foreign Businesses

If your business is located outside of the United States but you engage in U.S.-based operations, it’s critical that you seek legal counsel from an attorney who understands the complex issues involved. Whether you have ongoing legal issues related to a business expansion or are simply engaged in a singular transaction, the lawyers at Transnational Matters can assist with all of your American endeavors.

When it comes to foreign and domestic businesses, we can assist with your transactions and general corporate needs. We would love to discuss your needs with you. Contact our experienced transnational litigation and arbitration attorneys today!

About the Author
As a lawyer and the founder of Transnational Matters, Davy Aaron Karkason represents numerous international companies and a wide variety of industries in Florida, the U.S., and abroad. He is dedicated to fighting against unjust expropriation and unfair treatment of any individual or entity involved in an international matter. Mr. Karason received his B.A. in Political Science & International Relations with a Minor in Criminal Justice from Nova Southeastern University. If you have any questions about this article you can contact Davy Karkason through our contact page.