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DSARs 101: how to handle data deletion requests

Over the past few years, data subject access requests (DSARs) have practically become universal requirements for privacy regulations around the world. But many organizations still do not know how to handle nuances of these rules, such as data deletion rights. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about fulfilling data deletion requests. We'll also discuss how you can automate them! Let's begin.

Need a quick primer on DSARs before reading this post? Check out our previous article!

What Are Data Deletion Rights?

Data transparency and privacy have become top of mind for both consumers and businesses. This is in large part due to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) establishing rules regarding how organizations collect and process personal data. One of these rules focuses on consumer data deletion rights.

The GDPR's Right to Be Forgotten

The GDPR grants EU residents and anyone doing business with EU organizations the right to be forgotten. Also known as the right to erasure, it allows individuals to ask organizations to delete their personal data. An individual has the right to request this if:

  • The organization no longer needs the data for the original reason it collected it for.
  • A user withdraws their consent which acts as the lawful basis that the organization relies on to process the data.
  • An individual objects to the processing of their personal data and there is no legitimate interest to override this.
  • A person objects to their data being used for direct marketing purposes.
  • The organization is unlawfully processing a person's data.
  • An organization must delete personal data to comply with a legal obligation or ruling.
  • The organization has processed a child's personal data in order to offer information society services.

The CCPA's Right to Delete

Similar to the GDPR's right to be forgotten, the CCPA's right to delete allows individuals to ask organizations to erase their personal data if:

  • The organization collected the personal data from the consumer.
  • The organization no longer needs the personal information to fulfill one of the purposes identified in Cal. Civ. Code Sec. 1798.105 (d).
  • The organization is not entitled to retain the personal data under any of the general exemptions in Cal. Civ. Code Sec. 1798.145.

Data Deletion Requests Are Different From Other DSARs

It's important to note that data deletion rights differ from data access rights. The latter requires organizations to create a report that outlines what information they have about a person and how they use it. Fulfilling data deletion requests usually requires more specificity, insight, and context into how you process the data.

To put this in perspective, an organization could manually fulfill DSARs for the most part if they only receive a low volume of them and only deal with few data sources. But doing so for data deletion requests is more complex.

What Do Data Deletion Requests Require?

Want to efficiently respond to data deletion requests? Then you should prioritize these two factors:

  1. Specificity: You should know where the data is stored as well as any third parties you share it with.
  2. Context: You should be able to correlate the data to an individual, regulatory, or business context in order to determine whether each specific data element must be deleted.

This sounds simple enough, right? Well, it quickly gets complicated! For this reason, we advise you to have a plan in place for managing data deletion requests.

A Typical Workflow for Handling Data Deletion Requests

Here are the steps you should include in your process for taking care of data deletion requests:

  1. Determine the legitimacy of the request.
  2. Verify the requestor's identity and validate their request.
  3. Define what data categories and attributes should be deleted.
  4. Elucidate where you store the data.
  5. Identify both the technical and business data owners.
  6. Determine how to delete the data.
  7. Identify who you share the data with and issue a deletion request to them.
  8. Ensure you are not processing new data.
  9. Define when you can completely fulfill the request.

Note that this outline doesn't include details like how to respond to the request, who manages the process, and which stakeholders are accountable at each step. It's also crucial to remember that policies and reports alone can't solve data deletion requests. To effectively address them, you need a technical solution that fits into your broader privacy management program.

Can You Automate Data Deletion Requests?

Due to their complexity, data deletion requests can be more time-consuming and overwhelming to deal with than regular DSARs. Many ticketing-based solutions promise a seamless way to automate them. But like typical DSARs, this can be difficult (if not impossible) to do with these tools.

In truth, ticketing systems only automate tasks such as ticket creation, receipt confirmation, and deadline alerts. An individual's personal data often exists in several formats across numerous in-house, cloud-based, and third-party systems. Ticketing systems can't find, change, or delete all of these different data formats across your systems. That will still depend on you.

Essentially, a ticketing system can tell you what to do. But actually orchestrating the request and ensure your process meets GDPR and CCPA compliance is still on you. Unfortunately, this constitutes the majority of the work involved. So, is automating data deletion requests actually viable? It is with Ketch.

An Easier Way to Automate Data Deletion

Taking care of data deletion requests offers two main benefits:

  • You comply with GDPR and CCPA rules and avoid penalties.
  • It strengthens trust between your customers and your organization by proving that you take data privacy seriously.

But manually addressing these requests is often easier said than done. Ketch is here to change this. Our solution empowers you to automate your response workflow for DSARs by leveraging tools such as open-source APIs, syntax command templates, and system integration in conjunction with a central control system. As a result, you can automatically record, track, and respond to DSARs like data deletion requests faster and more effectively.

When it comes to privacy data compliance, Ketch puts your data systems to work so you don’t have to. Real automated orchestration of DSARs and data deletion requests is finally here to put an end to the confusion and headaches that usually accompany data compliance.

Click here to schedule your Ketch demo and learn how our platform can simplify your response workflow for DSARs and data deletion requests.

Privacy Tech
May 19, 2021

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