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How to choose a data privacy framework for your business

Data privacy frameworks provide organized sets of policies and procedures to ensure compliance with privacy regulations.
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6 min read
September 8, 2022
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Data privacy remains a priority from a business, political, and technological standpoint. Yet, the complexity and rapidly evolving climate of data regulation trends make it difficult for many organizations to keep up with the latest patch work of requirements. Within an organization, it can prove an additional hurdle to unite various departments toward managing data privacy practices and respecting consumer data dignity.

Understanding data privacy frameworks

Choosing a data privacy framework for your organization provides access to an organized and documented set of policies and procedures to ensure compliance throughout the company. Teams can refer to reliable best practices of data security together with their roles and responsibilities toward maintaining compliance.  

What is a data privacy framework?

A data privacy framework provides comprehensive guidelines to help your business comply with the latest privacy regulations, while addressing and adapting your cybersecurity practices according to the latest industry changes. 

You can provide your data privacy framework as proof of your due diligence in meeting regulatory standards. While a data privacy compliance framework offers strict guidelines, your team has the flexibility to interpret and amend its terms and conditions based on the context of each situation to drive the best outcome. 

How do privacy frameworks function?

Your data privacy compliance framework functions as living documents that drive secure communication and collaboration, protecting your organizational data from internal and external threats. With a clearly defined data privacy compliance framework, you can:

  1. Improve privacy-related decisions throughout your organization.
  2. Ensure compliance with regulatory bodies and avoid hefty penalties resulting from data privacy violations.
  3. Communicating risks while protecting internal and external stakeholders.

How do you create a privacy framework?

Organizations can gather their data privacy framework components from governmental agencies like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or private sources such as cloud vendors. Ultimately, each organization should apply a data privacy framework customized to its unique company requirements and priorities.

Selecting the right data privacy compliance framework

There are many privacy framework examples that can help you maintain the cybersecurity health of your company. Data breaches and privacy controversies continue to surround companies of all sizes, industries, and locations. 

Policy updates like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have set up guardrails to protect private data in light of modern cybersecurity risks. Applying the following privacy framework examples can help you monitor your systems and adhere to the latest data protection policies with greater ease and reliability. 

Popular privacy framework examples include:

  • NIST Cybersecurity Framework
  • Nymity Privacy Framework
  • ISO Privacy Framework
  • HIPAA Cybersecurity Framework
  • Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework
  • FISMA Privacy Framework

These frameworks are widely practiced because they provide clear guidelines that can help your organization quickly adapt to evolving data privacy and privacy regulations. 

You can select the most effective framework by assessing your organization’s current and future privacy risk profile while considering other factors such as your industry and the complexity and scope of managed data. 

Your organization might consider leaning on various frameworks to prepare against diverse scenarios. For example, the NIST Privacy Framework has a flexible structure that applies optimally when two or more organizations combine their operations, such as during a merger and acquisition, and across multiple brands and locations

Each framework contains a unique set of administrative data security controls that meet a specific standard (e.g., meeting the differing data privacy demands between US and UK consumers). As such, it is important to review the required effort and resources to implement a data privacy framework, Doing so ensures that your team has the tools and capabilities to work effectively according to its guidelines. 

An unsuitable framework could lead to potential issues down the road, such as inadequate protection of your privacy data and a lack of compliance resulting in penalties and reputational damage. The right choice of data privacy framework can serve as a reliable reference for streamlining cybersecurity risk management, security performance management, and third-party risk management strategies.  

Example 1– NIST privacy framework

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) set up the NIST Privacy Framework as voluntary guidelines aimed at supporting organizations with three major processes that include:

  1. Building customer trust by supporting ethical decision-making that enforces beneficial use of data across business offerings while minimizing adverse consequences.
  1. Meeting the latest compliance while future-proofing products and services across constantly evolving changes in cybersecurity and privacy management.
  1. Streamlining communication with internal and external stakeholders.

What is the NIST framework for data privacy?

The NIST Privacy Framework is a set of voluntary guidelines facilitating ethical decision-making, compliance, and communication regarding data privacy. It consists of five functions: Identify, Govern, Control, Communicate, and Protect, helping organizations manage privacy risks effectively.

There are around 100 NIST privacy controls that help organizations identify their privacy risks and suggest resource allocation and prioritization strategies for mitigating those risks. You can effectively align the NIST privacy framework with regulations and standards such as the CCPA and GDPR. 

What are NIST data privacy framework principles?

The NIST framework is based on five data privacy framework principles that enable your organization to optimize its cybersecurity practices. The NIST privacy framework functions include:

  1. Identify - To help develop organizational understanding and planning skills for managing privacy risks for individuals through data processing. 
  2. Govern - To help your organization develop and implement a reliable governance structure for an ongoing understanding of your company’s risk management priorities informed by privacy risks. 
  3. Control - To develop and implement appropriate strategies to help your organization handle data with granular controls for effective privacy risk management. 
  4. Communicate - To develop and implement the necessary activities to help your organization have a purposeful dialogue about data processing and related privacy risks. 
  5. Protect - To help your team develop and implement the appropriate data processing safeguards. 

NIST privacy framework summary

The NIST data governance framework includes 29 categories that further describe the specific processes for fulfilling the five functions. A combination of functions, categories, and controls forms the main body or core of the framework

You can then implement the core guidelines successfully based on your identified organizational privacy risk profile. Your organization can make the necessary operational changes based on a four-tier implementation approach that determines the degree of rigor and extent of integration needed in your organizational processes for the cybersecurity risk decisions you have taken.  

Example 2– Trans-atlantic data privacy framework (TADPF)

What is the trans-atlantic data privacy framework (TADPF)

The Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework (TADPF) aims to support a seamless and compliant transfer of personal data between US and European organizations.. It addresses concerns raised by the Schrems II decision, ensuring data protection and limiting access by US intelligence agencies. TADPF evolves to meet privacy obligations and fosters transatlantic trust.

Read more: Data privacy framework program

The recently approved EU-U.S. data privacy framework addressed and redressed the issues raised in Schrems II, a legal decision by the European court of justice that invalidated the previous EU-US Privacy Shield Framework. The decision occurred on the grounds that US surveillance laws offered inadequate data privacy protection for European citizens. 

US companies can now join the EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework by complying with the newly agreed set of privacy obligations. These processes include the deletion of private information when it no longer serves the original purpose of data collection. The European Commission and the United States announced an “agreement in principle” regarding the trans-Atlantic data privacy framework status.

The EU-U.S. data transfer agreement also limits the access of European data by US intelligence agencies and the creation of a Data Protection Review Court that oversees European complaints and concerns on data collection through trans-Atlantic data transfers and other transfer mechanisms like standard contractual clauses.

What to do next with TADPF?

TADPF is a relatively new framework that continues to evolve according to the decisions of EU and US privacy agreements. While the exact functionality of the TADPF remains inconclusive at the moment, your company can follow some measures to facilitate a smooth and successful adoption of the framework.

For instance, your organization can re-familiarize itself with the previous Privacy Shield Act, from which the TADPF bases most of its core practices. 

However, it might prove effective to consider an alternative combination of other privacy frameworks for maintaining personal data between the US and the EU rather than relying on the success of the TADPF. The new policy could face multiple administrative and legal challenges in the EU through periodic reviews as seen with its predecessor. 

Go further: Data privacy strategy advice from an ex-FTC regulator

Read time
6 min read
September 8, 2022
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