The prospect of sweeping EU data protection reforms means that every business in Europe – whether they're in the EU or not – needs to be thinking about how they collect, store and use information.

Sara Johns, who leads Ogier's digital, tech and IP services, has told BL Magazine that the General Data Protection Regulation reforms due in May 2018 will see one set of rules applied across Europe that reflect modern business practices, moving on from the existing laws that date back to 1995 – a point three years before the creation of Google, nine years before the birth of Facebook and 15 years before the first iPad hit the shelves.

The new rules will require anyone who wants to trade with the EU to effectively comply with the new rules which confer new rights – including "the right to be forgotten" – on members of the public, and new responsibilities on companies and government agencies who store and process personal information.

Sara said "With data now flowing across boundaries in the digital economy, it's about simplifying and harmonising the regulatory environment and giving individuals more control, and more protection, over their personal data, thus keeping pace with the way we do business in 2016.

"Data protection has come of age. Ignoring it is not an option."

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