Nine out of every ten small and medium sized companies here collect and use personal data in some way. That means they will be impacted by the EU's new General Data Protection Regulation which comes into force a year from today. It imposes new obligations on all those who collect and store personal information on their customers and comes with significant new penalties including serious fines for those found in breach. Yet fewer than half of those business are aware that a significant law change is coming down the tracks, according to research commissioned by the Data Protection Commissioner and carried out by Amárach.

Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon said that companies need to know the new regulations are coming into effect on May 25 2018 and they need to be aware that it applies to their company. If a company has employees, it is collecting and processing personal data and if it has customers it is also collecting and processing personal data, Ms Dixon explained. If a company has a website it is typically dropping cookies and the new rules will apply to pretty much every organisation in Ireland, she added. 

The Data Protection Commission has today launched a new micro-site - called GDPR and - which contains general information on the new regulations and has a 12 step guide for those organisations which have not yet stared to look at GDPR readiness in order to guide them to what they need to start doing. Ms Dixon said that companies need to be aware that a lead-in-time to get ready in necessary and companies will not be able to meet the requirements in just a couple of months. For instance, in order to comply with the new regulations, many companies and public sector organisations will need to appoint a Data Protection Officer on a mandatory basis. Ms Dixon said this appointment does not have to be an internal staff appointment but they can go on a contract for services and use an external DPO.

The new regulations will see new accountability requirement for companies and all organisations will need to analyse and document all of the personal data processing operations that they have. Once they have done that they need to go and check if the legal basis under which they are collecting the data still remains valid, Ms Dixon said. For instance, the rules around collecting data with consent, under the GDPR, must show that unambiguous and clear consent was given by an individual. 

Ms Dixon said the new regulations will see extra costs for businesses, but added that overall they will result in a win-win situation for companies as they will insure that the European digital economy grows as well as protecting the rights of consumers. These data protection laws are about having a sound data governance programme and policy and they are also about maintaining the trust of consumers and customers, she stated. 

MORNING BRIEFS - Hotel business Jurys Inns is up for sale with a price tag of over €1 billion. The chain owns six hotels in Ireland and 30 in the UK. It Is being sold by US private equity group Lone Star alongside six Hilton Hotels. Lone Star picked up Jurys in 2015 after state-owned IBRC had written off €330m of the chain's debt.

*** Waterford's Dawn Meats has agreed a cross border deal with Dunbia, which has its headquarters in Tyrone. Subject to regulatory approval the two companies will create a joint venture covering the North, Scotland, England and Wales. Dawn Meats will also acquire Dunbia's business in the Republic of Ireland. In a statement, Dawn Meats chief executive Niall Browne said given the uncertainty posed by Brexit the joint venture would provide the two firms with greater scale and enable them to be more competitive. Dawn Meats is the second largest beef processor in Ireland and a major supplier into the UK and across Europe.

*** Bank of England governor Mark Carney is under scrutiny over his eating habits after the bank released a detailed list of his expenses claims. One item on the list, the purchase of two yoghurts for £7.90 in Heathrow Airport lounge in 2015, was the subject of a freedom of information request. The FOI had asked: "Who did Mr Carney buy greek yoghurt for on January 21, 2015, or were the two portions for him?". We may never know as the bank responded that it held "no recorded information" in relation to the yoghurts.

*** Tech giant HP reported growth in both its PC and Printer divisions for the first time since 2010 during what its chief executive called a "breakthrough quarter". HP beat analysts estimates in recording net profit of $600m on revenue of $12.4 billion - that was almost 10% higher than the same quarter in 2016.