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The most sweeping data privacy regulation in a generation is finally here, with a compliance date of May 25, 2018. Although it’s been two years since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was adopted by the European Union Parliament on April 16, 2016, it would be a stretch to say that businesses worldwide are adequately prepared. In fact, the global implications of the regulation appear to be catching some U.S. companies off guard; it seems the EU’s industry-neutral data privacy regulation was not on the regulatory radar for many businesses used to following the rule-making of U.S. agencies.

Some public reports of preparedness paint a rosy picture. For instance, in a July 2017 global survey of Fortune 500 and FTSE 350 general counsel and chief security officers, 94 percent of respondents from the U.K. and 98 percent from the U.S. reported their company was on a strong pace to meet the regulatory requirements by this month. However, the first quarter of 2018 saw an exponential increase in webinars and seminars about GDPR, which suggests that some organizations are still scrambling to evaluate the potential implications of the new rules.

To wit, in an April 2018 survey of more than 1,000 companies in the United States and Europe, 40 percent of respondents said their organization will not be in compliance with GDPR as of May 25, 2018, and an additional 8 percent were unsure. Moreover, the survey found that 10 percent of respondents are unsure whether their firm is even subject to GDPR. That’s an alarming finding at this stage in the game, since executives who aren’t aware they’re subject to the rule cannot even start plotting a course on the roadmap to compliance.

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