Investing in the protection of personal data is not just a legal or regulatory requirement; it is also a strategic imperative that yields numerous benefits for companies.
However, companies vary in compliance readiness, and the question is often: Where to start?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulates how personal data is managed and gives individuals greater control over personal information while instilling obligations on companies.
Where to Start with Compliance
In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the essential steps, including GDPR principles, data discovery, creating records of processing activities, and implementing data retention policies to protect personal data.
Every company has its own specifics determined by the industry, its business objectives, or the environment in which it operates. However, we hope it serves as a useful checklist.
Step 1: Understand the Scope of GDPR
Start by familiarizing yourself with the GDPR’s key principles and terminology (or any other relevant and applicable law). Recognize that the Regulation applies not only to businesses operating within the EU but also to those outside the EU that process the personal data of EU residents.
It may seem complicated when you first delve into the subject, but a great way to start navigating the maze of the GDPR is to get informed.
You can visit our blog, which will introduce you to key definitions, data subject rights, principles, obligations around data breaches, and more: What is General Data Protection Regulation.
Step 2: Conduct an Assessment
For companies that want to get a clear and independent assessment of the state of their privacy program, whether they are interested in evaluating their progress or are just starting and still unsure how to approach compliance, conducting an assessment similar to SOPA can be crucial.
State-of-Privacy-Assessment (SOPA) is an external, independent evaluation providing an objective insight into your organization’s current privacy and data protection practices with recommendations for improvement.
This comprehensive assessment examines organizational and technical facets to ensure adherence to the highest data protection standards, which can be a great starting point.
Step 3: Utilize Data Discovery
Identify and document all personal data your organization collects, processes, and stores to understand where the data is located so you can manage and protect it properly.
Data Discovery tool automates the identification and categorization of personal data within an organization, offering a comprehensive view of data landscape.
These tool reveals hidden data and enables organizations to proactively manage and protect sensitive information.
Step 4: Create Records of Processing Activities
Maintain detailed records of your data processing activities. Records of processing activities (ROPA) represent one of the main compliance pillars that should give you an overview of all important information about data processing within your organization.
This includes documenting the purposes of processing, categories of data subjects (and special categories), recipients of personal data, any third-party transfers, and more.
Records demonstrate compliance and serve as a valuable resource during regulatory audits.
Step 5: Minimize Data Collection
Adopt a data minimization approach. Only collect and retain data necessary for the specified purpose. The less personal data you hold, the lower the risk of a data breach.
Conduct periodic reviews of your data collection practices. As business needs evolve, so do data requirements. Regularly reassess the necessity of collecting certain types of data and adjust your practices.
Step 6: Manage Collected Consents
According to some researchers, only 51% of organizations implemented consent management platforms. However, all companies need to track and monitor consent collection.
Review your consent mechanisms and ensure that your consent notices are easy to understand and that individuals can easily opt-in and opt-out. Keep records of consent to demonstrate compliance.
To track and monitor consent collection, you can utilize Consent Management platforms that can give you real-time insight into the complete personal data lifecycle from the moment of opt-in to the data removal.
Step 7: Implement Organizational and Technical Measures
GDPR prescribes the implementation of organizational and technical measures to protect personal data from unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, and destruction.
Taking into account the costs of implementation and the nature, scope, context, and purposes of processing as well as the risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals.
This may involve pseudonymization and anonymization, conducting DPIAs or LIAs regular audits, employee training, and the ability to ensure the ongoing confidentiality, integrity, availability, and resilience of processing systems and services.
Step 8: Be Transparent
Align with the transparency principle and inform individuals how their data will be used, who it will be shared with, and how long it will be retained.
Provide clear and concise privacy notices to promote transparency and build user trust.
Step 9: Enable Data Subject Rights
GDPR grants individuals several rights, including the right to access their personal data, the right to be forgotten, the right to be informed, to rectify, and to erase their personal data. Establish processes to handle data subject requests promptly and accurately.
As a company, you are obligated to the data subject without delay and within one month of receiving the request, and any violation of data subject rights provokes the highest penalties.
Using a GDPR solution that will help you track data subject requests and give you clear insight into all ongoing requests can help you manage them with confidence and within a legal timeline.
Step 10: Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs)
Conduct DPIAs for high-risk processing activities. This involves assessing the impact of data processing operations on individuals’ privacy and implementing measures to mitigate risks.
With our Assessment Automation module, you can simplify and standardize the assessment process, collect information from stakeholders easily, and automate the data collection and validation processes related to these assessments.
Step 11: Define Data Retention Policies
Establish clear data retention policies specifying how long different types of personal data will be retained. Regularly review and delete data that is no longer necessary for the purposes for which it was initially collected.
This reduces the risk of data breaches and ensures compliance with GDPR’s principles of data minimization and storage limitation.
DPM Approach to Compliance
Data Privacy Manager takes a proactive and dynamic approach to managing personal data, prioritizing automation, conducting audits, and continuous efforts to ensure robust data protection.
DPM offers different modules, each targeting a specific compliance challenge:
To sum up
Recognizing the complexity of the compliance process, the outlined steps cover fundamental aspects, from understanding GDPR principles to implementing robust data protection measures.
It’s important to note that achieving and maintaining GDPR compliance is an ongoing effort, and compliance can’t be achieved overnight.
Take the first step towards robust data protection. Your commitment to compliance builds trust and safeguards your reputation, and adopt a data protection strategy that stands the test of time.