Data can be the lifeblood of a business – but without an ironclad approach to consumer privacy, data can end up costing your company everything. With regulators no longer sitting on their laurels, the time to nail compliance is now. There are reasons beyond fines and data breaches to revisit your data privacy practices. Namely, your consumers are paying more attention than ever before.
Our research shows that 74% of consumers say they "highly value" data privacy, and 82% of consumers are highly concerned about how their data is collected and used. If you do not take the correct measures and data is compromised, you may not recover. Once you break consumer trust, it can be tough to get it back, not to mention the financial repercussions.
This guide will answer questions like what is data privacy and why is data privacy important? This knowledge will allow you to ensure data privacy compliance to protect your business and consumers.
Related: Let's make data privacy a core business value
Data privacy law
Personal data protection is becoming a priority across the world. Over 120 countries have adopted some form of legislation to ensure the right to data protection and privacy is respected. However, data privacy laws differ widely based on location, with some countries – and even states – enforcing stricter policies and regulations than others.
GDPR and the Data Protection Act are among the most commonly discussed. GDPR is often considered the global standard because it includes some of the world's toughest privacy and security laws but it wasn’t the first.
- The initial US Privacy Act was established in 1974, well before the internet as we understand it today could even be imagined.
- Laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) came before the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, GDPR was the first law of its kind in that it applied data protection and privacy across the European Union (EU).
- Since then, several privacy laws have been enacted, like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Colorado Privacy Act (CPA).
- The GDPR remains the most comprehensive piece of privacy legislation. However, changes are constantly happening, and it's up to you to stay aware of those changes.
According to the UN, 71% of countries have data privacy regulations to protect citizens, while 9% have draft laws. Depending on where you conduct business and with whom will dictate what regulations you must follow. Knowing which laws and regulations apply to your business will help you implement optimal data protection and privacy strategies.
GDPR compliance applies to businesses that collect personal data from EU citizens. However, that does not mean the law is solely enforced within Europe. No matter where in the world you’re headquartered, this law applies if you collect data from EU citizens.
GDPR personal data definition: The GDPR only applies to personal data. This data refers to any information that relates to an "identified or identifiable natural person." For example, telephone numbers, email addresses, or IP addresses.
Businesses must follow GDPR principles and be aware of all GDPR compliance requirements, including the following:
- Companies must ask for consent or permission when using or storing your EU customers' data.
- Companies must have a lawful reason for processing personal data and ensuring transparency.
- Companies can only collect data for a specific purpose and must document that purpose. When information is no longer needed, it should be deleted.
- Companies must be aware of all data subject rights, such as the right to be informed and the right of access.
- Companies must integrate safeguards to comply, prioritizing privacy concerns within all data processing practices.
- Companies must conduct data protection impact assessments (DPIAs) to identify and minimize privacy risks.
- Staff awareness training is mandatory for those involved in the process of handling data.
GDPR is strict and complex. If you are non-compliant, claiming ignorance won’t save you. Educating yourself is step one, as understanding the top GDPR compliance mistakes could help your company dodge a bullet.
Related: How do you know if you are GDPR compliant?
Data privacy compliance framework
When aiming to develop a privacy program, the process can be daunting. You need to know your organization's requirements concerning applicable laws and regulations. To assist this process, data privacy compliance frameworks exist. These privacy frameworks, including the NIST Privacy Framework or the Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs), are based on specific standards or principles.
However, you can also use regulations like CPRA and GDPR as frameworks or leverage frameworks from platforms like Ketch. The latter allows for a customized approach, which can be invaluable. Ketch offers a simple framework for defining the acceptable use of any data type, eliminating the complexities surrounding navigating privacy laws and governance mandates. This option is ideal for any business unsure how to proceed and those wanting to save time and money concerning their current data privacy and protection operations.
Your chosen framework should be based on what makes the most sense for your business. For example, what are your regulatory requirements?
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?
- California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)?
- All of the above?
You can then create a privacy compliance checklist based on each regulation, leveraging resources such as this GDPR checklist. Alternatively, you can invest in a platform that does all the heavy lifting for you. With a few simple steps, you could future-proof your privacy compliance program. As data security regulations expand and customer expectations change, this option has become the solution for data privacy and compliance concerns.