4 Strategies for Data Privacy Readiness

Data privacy laws like CCPA and GDPR have finally empowered consumers by giving them complete authority and control over how their personal data is collected and used. These laws (and the ones in progress) are designed to safeguard important personal information from being compromised and misused. Irrespective of where you are based and how big your business is, you must start complying with these laws to avoid penalties and build a trustworthy relationship with your consumers. Data privacy readiness is no more an option; it has become a symbol of trust and respect. Yes, it does require businesses to spend some time and resources to ensure compliance. But, in the end, data privacy readiness is worth the extra effort.

This article will help you understand how you can start with data privacy readiness and what you can do to comply with data privacy laws such as GDPR and CCPA.

Here are the four best strategies you can adopt to get started.

Collect and Store Data that you Genuinely Need

The first strategy for data privacy readiness should simplify your business’s data processing aspect. It might sound tempting to own a vast pool of data you can access anytime and for any purpose, whether marketing, understanding consumer needs, creating business strategies, or simply selling to second or third parties for monetary benefits. But, the more data you collect, the more it becomes difficult to map, sort, and protect. Plus, some data privacy laws, such as GDPR, mandate that businesses must collect and store only the absolutely necessary data.

For example, if you are collecting data for creating sales leads or email marketing and the source of data collection is a downloadable PDF, you only need a person’s full name and email address. You don’t need to collect other personal information such as religious beliefs, past shopping history, browsing history, biometric data, etc. When you collect data you don’t need, you violate privacy laws. Further, you also make yourself prone to severe penalties and legal actions if the data gets leaked and/or misused.

Data Protection Officers

If you need help determining what data you need and how to map/sort/store it, you can hire a data protection officer (which is mandated by GDPA). The DPO will help businesses come up with the best possible data privacy readiness strategies and ensure compliance with all relevant laws. They will also be responsible for Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA), a process designed to help businesses identify and minimize the risks associated with the processing and storing of personal information.

Inform Consumers About Your Data Collection Motive and Ask for Their Consent

Currently, GDPR and CCPA are two significant data privacy laws. GDPR is stricter because it requires businesses to seek user consent before collecting data, even if the information is absolutely necessary to process the user requests. CCPA is a bit lenient. It doesn’t mandate prior consent. Businesses can collect personal data, but they have to inform consumers about it, and they must give them the option to opt-out in case they do not want their information to be collected or sold.

Depending on location, you can choose any approach that best suits your business. But, make sure you do not do clandestine data collection because it can invite a hefty penalty and a non-compliance fine.

All data collection points should have a clear, easy-to-understand, obligation-free acknowledgment form without any pre-ticked consent boxes. You should clearly mention why you need the data you are collecting and how you intend to use it. Avoid using any complex phrases and jargon that could misguide the users.

Suppose you receive consent, document and store it properly for future use. If you do not obtain consent, do not collect/process any personal data. If a user doesn’t consent or opts out of their personal data being used in any way, respect their decision. Do not discriminate against them by impeding the functioning of the website.

Train Your Team the Importance of Data Privacy Laws and How to Contribute

While the Data Protection Officer and your compliance team are at the forefront, every member of your organization is responsible for safeguarding your consumers’ personal information. So, you must train them about these laws, the importance of compliance, the consequences of not doing so, and what they can do to help your company. Anyone who handles or processes personal data from the marketing team to the customer service team must be briefed about things they must not do.

The team responsible for handling customer requests regarding opt-out options must be trained quickly and correctly to manage them. They must know how to delete the data from the source so there is no duplicate data left. The website designing and management team must be trained to develop designs that provide free access to even those who refuse to provide consent.

Take Necessary Steps to Prevent Data Breaches

People who have consented to storing and using their personal data expect you to keep it safe. The data must not get leaked and must not fall into the hands of people who can use it for unethical purposes such as identity theft and crimes. So, businesses must develop strict policies and procedures to help prevent data breaches.

If you have the necessary resources, you can get ISO/IEC 27001 certification, the best-known standard for information security management systems (ISMS). If you are not yet ready for it, here is what you can do:

  • Limit access to sensitive data. Only people who are directly responsible for using those data should have access.
  • Make sure you permanently delete the data that you don’t need. There should be no backup of that data. Old devices must be wiped off entirely before being disposed of.
  • Conduct random drills and evaluate how prepared you are to prevent cyber attacks. Find out the loopholes and fix them. Do this regularly.
  • Prepare a data breach response plan. No matter how meticulous your data protection strategy is, it might still fail. You must remain prepared for such a crisis. Know what to do and whom to inform. Find out what you can do to stop further damage. Learn about local, state, federal, and other regulations your business must adhere to.

Wrap up

The strategies mentioned above for data privacy readiness can help prepare your business for GDPR and CCPA compliance. Although these strategies should be simple and easy to execute, you will need a dedicated team of trained professionals to deal with data privacy matters. You may also need professional help because the laws are ever-evolving and require regular updates.