Comparing ISO 27701 vs GDPR: Why We Need Both?

ISO 27701 vs GDPR

In the world of data privacy and security, ISO 27701 and GDPR are two prominent frameworks that organizations must navigate.  But have you ever wondered that if both of these compliances focus on data privacy, then how do they differ, or which one of them is better, or why do we need both of them? This blog explores the similarities, differences, and practical implications of ISO 27701 vs GDPR so that you can figure out the one for your organization.

What Is ISO 27701?

What Is ISO 27701?ISO 27701 is a privacy extension to the ISO/IEC 27001 standard, which is widely recognized for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS). It provides organizations with guidance on implementing and maintaining a Privacy Information Management System (PIMS). ISO 27701 focuses on protecting the privacy rights of individuals and ensures compliance with relevant privacy regulations and requirements.

What Is GDPR?

What Is GDPR?GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation, is a comprehensive privacy regulation introduced by the EU. It aims to strengthen the protection of personal data and the privacy rights of individuals within the EU. GDPR imposes strict requirements on organizations that process personal data, providing individuals with greater control over their data and establishing a harmonized data protection framework across EU member states.

Key Similarities Between The Two

Although ISO 27701 and GDPR have different scopes and origins, they share several key similarities:

  • Focus on Privacy: Both frameworks emphasize the importance of protecting personal data and respecting privacy rights.
  • Risk-based Approach: Both ISO 27701 and GDPR encourage organizations to adopt a risk-based approach when implementing privacy and data protection measures.
  • Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Both frameworks aim to ensure organizations comply with applicable privacy laws and regulations.

Key Differences (ISO 27701 vs GDPR)

If we compare ISO 27701 vs GDPR, we will find that both of them address different aspects of data privacy and protection. Given below are some differences to consider:


ScopeISO 27701 is an international standard that guides on implementing and maintaining a Privacy Information Management System (PIMS). It focuses specifically on managing personal information within the context of an organization’s overall information security management system (ISMS).

On the other hand, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation implemented by the European Union (EU) to protect the privacy and personal data of individuals within the EU. It applies to all organizations that process the personal data of EU residents, regardless of where the organization is located.


ISO 27701 applies to any organization that processes personal information, regardless of its size, type, or location. It can be implemented by organizations of all sectors and industries.

While, GDPR applies to organizations that process personal data of individuals within the EU, regardless of whether the organization is based in the EU or outside the EU. It has extraterritorial reach and affects a wide range of industries and sectors.


FocusISO 27701 focuses on establishing a framework for managing privacy information and implementing controls to protect personal data. It provides guidelines for assessing risks, implementing privacy controls, and demonstrating compliance with privacy regulations.

In contrast, GDPR focuses on the protection of personal data and the rights of individuals. It outlines principles, obligations, and rights related to the processing of personal data, including lawful bases for processing, data subject rights, data breach notification, and accountability of data controllers and processors.

Legal Framework

ISO 27701 is not a legal requirement but provides a framework to help organizations demonstrate compliance with privacy regulations, such as the GDPR. It aligns with existing privacy laws and regulations.

GDPR is a legally binding regulation that must be followed by organizations processing the personal data of EU residents. Non-compliance can result in significant penalties, including fines.


Organizations can seek certification for ISO 27701 compliance by undergoing an audit and assessment by an accredited certification body. Certification demonstrates the organization’s commitment to privacy management and compliance.

GDPR does not have a specific certification process. However, organizations are required to demonstrate compliance with the regulation through various means, such as implementing appropriate technical and organizational measures and maintaining documentation of data processing activities.

Penalties and Fines

Penalties and FinesBoth ISO 27701 and GDPR outline penalties and fines for non-compliance with their respective requirements.

ISO 27701 does not impose specific fines or penalties. However, non-compliance with ISO 27701 may have reputational consequences and may affect an organization’s ability to demonstrate its commitment to privacy and data protection.

GDPR, on the other hand, introduces significant penalties for non-compliance. Organizations that fail to meet GDPR requirements can face fines of up to €20 million or 4% of their global annual turnover, whichever is higher.

Why Do We Need Both ISO 27701 vs GDPR?

ISO 27701 vs GDPR serve different purposes and complement each other in addressing data privacy and protection. Here’s why we need both:

ISO 27701

  • Comprehensive Privacy Management: ISO 27701 provides organizations with a systematic approach to managing privacy risks and protecting personal data. It helps establish a robust Privacy Information Management System (PIMS) that goes beyond legal compliance and incorporates privacy best practices.
  • International Standard: ISO 27701 is an international standard recognized globally. It offers a structured framework that can be implemented by organizations across various jurisdictions, regardless of specific legal requirements.
  • Integration with Information Security: ISO 27701 extends the information security management system established by ISO 27001 to include privacy controls. This integration ensures a holistic approach to data protection, covering both security and privacy aspects.


  • Legal Compliance: GDPR is a comprehensive regulation with legally binding requirements for organizations that process the personal data of individuals within the European Union (EU). Compliance with GDPR is mandatory for organizations that handle EU citizens’ data, irrespective of their geographic location.
  • Individual Rights and Data Subject Protection: GDPR emphasizes individuals’ rights and provides them with control over their data. It sets out principles for the lawful and fair processing of personal data, establishes conditions for obtaining consent, and grants data subjects rights such as access, rectification, erasure, and data portability.
  • Strong Enforcement and Penalties: GDPR has strict enforcement mechanisms and significant penalties for non-compliance. Organizations that fail to meet GDPR requirements can face fines of up to 4% of their global annual turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher.


In conclusion, both ISO 27701 and GDPR play crucial roles in safeguarding data privacy and ensuring compliance. While ISO 27701 provides a framework for managing privacy information, GDPR sets legal requirements for protecting personal data. Organizations should understand the requirements of both frameworks and implement appropriate measures to meet their obligations. It is essential to seek professional guidance and assistance to navigate the complexities of ISO 27701 and GDPR effectively and ensure the highest level of data privacy and compliance. Seek help from experts to ensure your organization’s success in this critical area.

If you are looking to implement any of the Infosec compliance frameworks such as SOC 2 complianceHIPAAISO 27001, and GDPR compliance, Impanix can help. Book a Free consultation call with our experts or email us at  [email protected] for inquiries.