GDPR is an opportunity for European businesses, not a threat, according to Professor of Data Privacy at Vlerick Business School, Öykü Isik. The flagship piece of European regulation, which comes into effect in May, aims to strengthen data protection and will make businesses accountable if they are storing or transferring customers personal data without their consent. Businesses that fail to comply with the regulation will face hefty fines.

But Isik says the regulations will actually benefit EU businesses by allowing them to steal a march on global competition in giving their customers a greater sense of security and transparency.

“With GDPR coming into effect this year, privacy by design will become the new standard, and that is a good thing. Companies which comply with the regulation will automatically handle their client’s data in an ethical, open and transparent manner. This will build many businesses reputation and increase customer loyalty”

And now is the time to adopt this approach- Professor Isik’s research has previously discovered that millennials attach a price tag to their data and therefore want to be treated with respect and care in exchange for it.

She says “GDPR will set a global standard for data protection and the rest of the world will have no choice but to follow, especially if they wish to keep their European clients”

“It will be cheaper in the long term to focus on achieving the highest standard of data protection, gradually it will become a become a cost factor not to comply with these strict rules. When it comes to privacy the US has a very different mindset to the EU and I believe they will suffer a competitive disadvantage if they do not satisfy the new European standard”.