Data Privacy: A Business Guide.
As modern businesses increasingly rely on complex digital environments, data privacy is as critical as ever. As a business owner or employee, you are tasked with the protection of valuable data. So, what is the best cause of action? Can you ensure your data is safe? In Data Privacy: A Business Guide, we explore how you can protect your business and customers from data compromise.
To begin, let’s understand what data privacy is. According to the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), it is defined as:
Data privacy is the ability of individuals or organisations to control the collection, use, disclosure, transfer, and access to their personal information.
The IAPP also defines personal information as:
Any information that can be used to identify or contact a specific individual, such as a name, address, phone number, email address, or Social Security number.
With this in mind, what are the implications of data compromise on business operations and reputation alongside, their effect on compliance? Firstly, consider a few important steps:
Data Privacy: Legal Compliance
In the UK, the compliance framework used is the Data Protections Act 2018; the UK’s iteration of GDPR. Conversely, in Ireland, businesses must follow GDPR guidelines.
The DPA and GDPR set out a number of requirements for organisations that process personal data, including:
- Obtaining consent from individuals before processing their personal data
- Only processing personal data for specified, explicit, and legitimate purposes
- Keeping personal data accurate and up-to-date
- Taking steps to protect personal data from unauthorised access, use, disclosure, or destruction
- Notifying individuals if there is a data breach
Failure to comply with the DPA may leave businesses vulnerable to a number of enforcement actions and criminal prosecutions.
While the Data Protections Act 2018 has many similarities to GDPR, it does vary in some key areas:
Definition of personal data:
The DPA 2018 defines personal data more narrowly than the GDPR and does not include online identifiers such as IP addresses and cookies.
- Right to be forgotten: The GDPR gives individuals the right to request that their personal data be deleted, in certain circumstances. The DPA 2018 does not have this right.
- Right to data portability: The GDPR gives individuals the right to request that their personal data be transferred to another organisation, in certain circumstances. The DPA 2018 does not have this right.
- Right to object: The GDPR gives individuals the right to object to processing their personal data in certain circumstances. The DPA 2018 does not have this right. (Source: https://tpconnects.com/security-policy/?authuser=1)
The Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA)
- Scope: The GDPR requires organisations to carry out a DPIA for any processing of personal data that is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals. The DPA 2018 only requires this for high-risk processing, such as processing that involves sensitive personal data or occurs in a particularly vulnerable context.
- Content: The GDPR specifies the content that must be included in a DPIA. This includes information about the nature, scope, context, and purposes of the processing; the risks to individuals’ rights and freedoms; the measures taken to mitigate those risks; and in addition, safeguards in place to protect personal data. The DPA 2018 does not specify the content that must be included in a DPIA.
- Timing: The GDPR requires organisations to carry out a DPIA before they start processing personal data that is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals. The DPA 2018 does not specify when a DPIA must be carried out.
Data Protection Officer
- Data protection officer: The GDPR requires organisations that meet certain criteria to appoint a DPO, while the DPA 2018 does not have this requirement.
- Enforcement: The ICO can issue fines of up to £4 million or 4% of global annual turnover, whichever is greater, for breaches of the DPA 2018, while the EDPB can issue fines of up to €20 million or 4% of global annual turnover, whichever is greater, for breaches of the GDPR.
Data Privacy: Business Implications
Businesses in the UK or Ireland must embed these principles into their operations and make compliant actions with data privacy at the forefront of their plans. Below are some key business operations and some actions required to remain compliant:
- Data collection and use: Businesses need to ensure that they collect and use customer data only for legitimate purposes. This includes obtaining explicit consent from customers before collecting their personal information and clearly communicating how the data will be used.
- Marketing and advertising: Businesses need to be transparent about how they use customer data for marketing and advertising purposes. They should obtain consent before using customer data for these purposes and provide customers with opt-out options.
- Customer service: Businesses often collect customer data to provide better customer service. They need to ensure that customer data is protected and not used for any other purposes.
- Data storage and disposal: Businesses need to implement appropriate measures to protect customer data while it’s being stored and dispose of it securely when it’s no longer needed.
- Third-party vendors: Businesses often use third-party vendors to collect, store, or process customer data. They need to ensure that these vendors comply with relevant data privacy laws and regulations and take appropriate measures to protect customer data.
In addition to remaining compliant with data privacy law, businesses can garner further trust from their customer base and avoid legal pitfalls. Ultimately, compliance is good for your customers and reputation.
Data Privacy: Customer Trust
While interacting with their customers, businesses must act in a protective and responsible manner towards data privacy. Below are some key tenants to implement in customer interactions:
- Define the important data: Only collect the data you need. If you’re an eCommerce business selling shoes, there will only be the need for data specific to make a transaction and retarget with marketing. If you are collecting excess data, identify it and refine your collection process.
In summary, customers expect their data to be held, disposed or shared in a responsible manner. To meet expectations, businesses must pull out all the stops.
Data Privacy: Cybersecurity
There are a number of things that businesses can do to improve their data privacy from a cybersecurity perspective. In light of this, here are some of the most important actions include:
- Implementing strong security measures: This includes things like using firewalls, encryption, and access controls to protect data from unauthorised access, use, disclosure, or destruction.
- Educating employees about data privacy: Employees should be aware of the importance of data privacy and the steps they can take to protect data. This includes things like using strong passwords, being careful about what information they share online, and reporting suspicious activity to IT staff.
- Having a data breach response plan in place: In the event of a data breach, businesses should have a plan in place to respond quickly and effectively. This plan should include things like notifying affected individuals, investigating the breach, and finally taking steps to prevent future breaches.
By taking these steps, businesses can help to protect their data from unauthorised access and use.
Here are some additional tips for businesses that want to improve their data privacy:
- Use strong passwords and change them regularly.
- Be careful about what information you share online.
- Use a firewall and antivirus software.
- Keep your software up to date.
- Back up your data regularly.
- Be aware of the risks of phishing and other scams.
- Report any suspicious activity to your IT department.
By following these tips, businesses can help to protect their data from unauthorised access and use.
To fully address the problem, businesses must consider legal compliance, business implications, customer trust, and cybersecurity. They must take a holistic approach to implementing GDPR or DPA at every level of the organization and provide comprehensive training. Data protection is not just a concern for the boardroom but also for every customer and member of the workforce. Therefore, businesses should prioritize it as a central tenet in securing their operations now and in the future.
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