The Deep Waters of GDPR: A Short Guide for Startups

In the constantly evolving digital landscape, data protection has never been more crucial. Navigating the complexities of the GDPR (European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation) can seem a daunting task. Fear not, for we’re here to steer you through the turbulent waters of data protection regulation. Here’s a simplification of key points to ensure that your startup is GDPR-compliant.

1. Understanding the Core Principle

At its core, GDPR aims to protect the personal data of EU citizens. It impacts how businesses, including startups, collect, process, and store user data. To understand what this means for you:

  • Ensure that you are aware of what kind of personal data you collect and process;
  • Identify the potential risks related to such activities;
  • Implement measures to minimise the identified risks;
  • Repeat (with suitable intervals).

Be sure to p­ut time and effort into the first point, since the rest are rather useless without inputing of proper data. Also remember to put the results of all that hard work down in writing, thereby creating your internal policy on data protection. Of course, you will also need to present a privacy policy to the public describing how you process data, but that is only the tip of the GDPR iceberg.

2. Identifying Personal Data

GDPR categorizes personal data as any information that can identify a natural person, directly or indirectly. It includes names, email addresses, location data, and online identifiers. Ensure your startup has clear guidelines on what qualifies as personal data and handle it with enhanced diligence. Use a low threshold. In reality, almost all data carries some pieces that can link it to a natural person.

3. Consent is Key, but What About Legitimate Interest?

Before collecting and processing personal data, obtaining explicit consent from the individuals is paramount. Your startup should ensure that consent forms are clear, easily accessible, and allow users to opt-in actively. It’s equally important to allow users the option to withdraw consent at any time.

Another lawful basis for processing personal data under the GDPR is the ‘legitimate interests’ of your startup. This allows for data processing without explicit consent, provided the operation is necessary and balanced against the rights and freedoms of the data subject. Fancy words that are at times very difficult to assess in practice. Processing a customer’s personal data is acceptable, for example, in order to take steps at the request of the customer prior to entering into a contract and thereafter as necessary for the performance of the contract.

Of course, collection and processing must always be kept at its minimum, which leads us to:

4. Data Minimization and Limitation

GDPR advocates for the principle of data minimization. Collect only the data necessary for the intended purpose and avoid hoarding unnecessary information. Furthermore, restrict the processing of personal data to the specified, explicit, and legitimate purposes for which they were collected.

5. Rights of the Data Subjects

Under GDPR, individuals have the right to access, rectify, or erase their personal data. They also possess the right to data portability and to object to processing. Your startup must establish procedures that honor these rights promptly and effectively.


Our law firm specializes in aiding startups navigate through the legal intricacies of data protection regulations, ensuring a secure and compliant business operation. Feel free to reach out for comprehensive legal guidance tailored specifically to meet the unique needs of your startup in the GDPR landscape. Remember, ensuring GDPR compliance is not just a legal requirement, but a cornerstone in establishing trust with your users and stakeholders. Happy navigating!