What Are the Data Protection Principles of the GDPR?

Posted on by Josh Escobedo | Updated:
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The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) establishes the standards that any company directing online commercial activity toward EU residents must meet in terms of data protection and security. In an increasingly globalized world, this has come to be a standard that non-EU companies try to meet as well rather than the alternative, which is alienating their EU market entirely. 

The GDPR is a very long document, so this article will focus on just one aspect of it – Article 5 – which sets out the seven principles of data protection. The GDPR makes any ‘Data Controller’ responsible for respecting these seven principles when they use, transmit, or process the personal data of EU residents. 

Seven Key Principles of the GDPR 

Here, we’ll discuss each one in turn, and what it might mean for you and your organization. 

Lawfulness, Fairness, and Transparency 

“Personal data shall be processed lawfully, fairly, and transparently about the data subject (‘lawfulness, fairness, transparency’)” – GDPR Article 5(1)(a).

The GDPR term regards processing as anything an organization does that involves or affects personal data. This includes collection, storage, usage, and deletion, among other actions.

To comply with this principle, you must obtain consent to process data from the person in question. Barring this, processing personal data must be deemed necessary under certain conditions. These conditions include entering into or carrying out the terms of a contract, complying with a legal obligation, etc.

You must also be completely straightforward with people about how you will use the data you’re collecting. And you must not handle the data in an unexpected, unnecessarily harmful, or misleading fashion. 

Purpose Limitation 

“Personal data shall be collected for specified, explicit, and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes…” – GDPR Article 5(1)(b).

You may only gather personal data for a specified purpose. You must explain fully what your end goals for collecting this data are. Furthermore, you cannot use the data for any additional purposes. 

Data Minimization 

“Personal data shall be adequate, relevant, and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed (data minimization).” – GDPR Article 5(1)(c).

The principle of data minimization means processing the least possible amount of data needed to complete your declared purpose. You can’t collect extra data just in case, either. 


“Personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date… personal data that are inaccurate… (must be) …erased or rectified without delay (‘accuracy’)” – GDPR Article 5(1)(d). 

You must review personal information regularly and amend or delete inaccurate information. Data that is found to be incorrect must be corrected or deleted within 30 days of discovery. 

Storage Limitation 

“Personal data shall be kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary…” – GDPR Article 5(1)(e).

After you have achieved your stated purpose with the data, you must delete it. It doesn't matter if it might be very useful or profitable later. You must permanently and completely delete it. 

Integrity and Confidentiality (Security) 

“Personal data shall be processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorized or unlawful processing and accidental loss, destruction, or damage…” – GDPR Article 5(1)(f).

You are responsible for protecting the personal information of EU residents from cyber-attacks, accidental disclosure, unauthorized use, and even accidental damage or loss. Liquid Web offers data encryption and secure, off-site backup services to help achieve this and other data protection principles. 


“The controller shall be responsible for, and be able to demonstrate compliance with [the other data protection principles]” – GDPR Article 5(2).

Accountability requires compliance with all six of the principles above and the ability to provide evidence that you are. Want to make sure you comply? Liquid Web has a checklist that will help.

Why Are the Data Protection Principles Important? 

At the most basic level, these principles are important because if you collect, use, or retain personal data on even one resident of the EU, you open yourself up to fines or disciplinary action if you do not comply with the GDPR. 

Now, for smaller companies and those with no EU assets at all, this might not be important. For larger companies who do not see EU residents as an important market, it might be easier to block access to your goods or services in the EU than to comply in any other way. But if you are one of the millions of companies that make a significant amount of money by selling or advertising to EU residents, compliance can become very important indeed. 

What Liquid Web Does to Make Sure You Get the Best Data Protection 

Liquid web strives to provide industry-leading protection, and that means meeting (and often exceeding) the standards established by the GDPR’s data protection principles in every way. 

SSL Certificates 

SSL certificates allow you to send encrypted data over the web and for your site to appear with an HTTPS tag. Owing to their importance, Liquid Web keeps your website’s SSL certificates up to date, allowing your customers and clients to use your site securely and with peace of mind. 

Private Networking 

Liquid Web can also allow you to avoid the public internet entirely for your most sensitive data, via private networking

Managed WordPress Updates 

One of the best ways to keep your data protected and secure (as well as to ensure compliance with the GDPR and other regulations) is to make sure you apply all WordPress updates as soon as possible. This can be a time-consuming task, so Liquid Web can do it for you. 

Private Cloud Solutions 

Finally, Liquid Webb can take your data off publicly accessible cloud storage entirely, making it much more secure without giving up one bit of the convenience or ease of use the cloud offers.

Final Thoughts 

To conclude, the data protection principles of the GDPR have rapidly become the industry standard throughout the EU and beyond. However, they are not the last word in data protection or data security. Liquid Web can make sure your privacy and protection solutions are truly state-of-the-art without that security becoming too cumbersome to use properly.

Contact one of The Most Helpful Humans In Hosting® today to learn more.

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Josh Escobedo

Josh Escobedo is a professional Linux System Administrator with Liquid Web.

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