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Our Guide to GDPR in the USA

Our Guide to GDPR in the USA

Are you a US company doing business in the EU?

If you do business with an individual or organization outside the country – the EU, especially – then you may have heard of the GDPR before. It’s essential that you learn the fundamentals of this term and take proactive measures to maintain full compliance. Otherwise, you may end up introducing risk elements in the way of violations that could seriously punish your organization.

To help steer your operations in an optimal direction, we’ve compiled an introductory guide to GDPR for USA-based businesses. Let’s get started.

What is General Data Protection Regulation for USA-Based Companies?

Defining GDPR for USA Businesses

Otherwise known as the General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR refers to a dedicated safeguard framework for individuals currently residing in the European Union (EU). It has been strictly enforced since 2018. Put short and simply, anyone doing international business with citizens or organizations within this collective must adhere to its data privacy requirements. Among these include the need for more comprehensive disclosure and prompts prior to data collection. Even if your company doesn’t do direct business with an individual or company within the EU, should other elements like your website attract traffic from it, you would still need to maintain full GDPR compliance.

How is GDPR Applicable in the USA?

If you have an online presence and are seeing international traffic from countries within the EU, GDPR is very much applicable to your business. This is the case regardless of whether you’re gathering information for a marketing strategy, have team members and/or satellite locations situated within the EU, or are actively selling products or goods to its citizens.

When it comes to GDPR requirements in the USA, Article 3 of the regulation makes the applicability rather clear. In layman’s terms, it essentially states that a USA-based company is subject to its terms and conditions if any personal data is collected from individuals residing within the EU. This is the case even when your company isn’t selling them a product or service directly and is simply gathering data for marketing purposes.

Why is General Data Protection for US Companies Important?

It Affords Data Privacy Protections to EU Citizens

If your company needs to comply with the GDPR, there isn’t much in the way of wiggle room; any organization that falls under its purview must adhere to its terms and conditions. Therefore, there must also be a lawful and fully compliant precedent behind any data collection and processing, and it is necessary to facilitate a transparent, dignified approach to obtaining any personal information with the individual’s full awareness of what it will be used for.

Companies Governed by the GDPR in the USA will be Monitored

As noted earlier, the regulation has been in strict enforcement since 2018. This is made possible through the active monitoring of organizations governed by the GDPR. That being said, it should be noted that organizations within a branch of government will not normally be governed by GDPR requirements.

How to Maintain GDPR Compliance in the USA

Determine Whether Your Organization Acts as the Controller or Processor

If your organization establishes the means of data collection and processing in question, thereby overseeing its implementation, then it is classified as a controller. If your company is responsible for actually collecting said data and/or processing it, then it is appropriately classified as a processor. Depending on which of these two categories you fall under, different requirements will apply to you and your team.

Ensure Your Organization Has a Dedicated Data Protection Officer (DPO)

As directed by the European Commission, should your organization need to comply with GDPR terms and conditions, it must have its own internal Data Protection Officer (DPO) . This can be someone from within your team, so long as they meet the eligibility criteria. Specific conditions that dictate the need for a DPO include operations that actively track and monitor large swaths of data, companies that obtain and/or process specific personal data points, or those that process information collected from EU citizens by a third party.

Risk Management and Internal Preventative Measures

To minimize the risk of violating any GDPR requirements, you and your DPO should thoroughly develop, test, and refine processes to ensure they are fully compliant. Not only that, but be certain to educate your staff on best practices, reduce the margin of error through training and built-in process safeguards, and utilize technologies that enable for streamlined operational management within GDPR parameters.

Compliance Software for General Data Protection Regulation in the United States

One of the most effective, proactive, and risk-aware approaches a business can opt for is dedicated GDPR compliance software. It’s a great way to minimize the chances of a data breach, enables for anonymous reporting and user-friendly management, and your organization will be able to harness ample insights and data analytics. WhistleBlower Security adheres fully to any GDPR requirements that govern your operations, ensuring strict data access and breach notification parameters. Additionally, with its own Data Privacy Officer assisting with implementation and management in accordance with a dedicated Information Security Policy, solutions such as these ensure that any data collected is deleted or returned in a fully GDPR-compliant manner. This protects your business against any unintended violations and subsequent legal complications.


Even if you don’t suspect that your business engages with residents of the EU in any way, it’s best to not leave your GDPR obligations to chance. For further assistance, more details about the GDPR checklist for data controllers and processors, or to learn more about our own solutions, we’re happy to help. Contact us at WhistleBlower Security today.

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photo Amanda Nieweler
About the Author
Amanda writes for WhistleBlower Security about ethics, compliance, workplace culture, and whistleblower hotlines. Amanda brings her nearly two decades of risk and compliance experience to the WBS blog where she is dedicated to helping people and companies promote speak-up cultures.