Understand and Achieve GDPR Compliance

Understand and Achieve GDPR Compliance

The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, was enacted to bring legal unification and clarity to the protection of EU citizens’ personal data. Many organizations, however, are unaware of how personal data is defined under the GDPR, what they need to do to achieve GDPR compliance, or if they even need to comply at all.

In this blog post, we’ll answer these and other questions so you and your business can demonstrate GDPR compliance and avoid costly fines and penalties.

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What is GDPR? A Brief Overview

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), enacted by the European Union in 2018, is a law that mandates stringent guidelines for the handling of personal data belonging to EU citizens by companies worldwide. The GDPR is designed to improve the privacy rights of EU citizens, giving them greater control over their personal data and ensuring a standardized data protection law across all member nations. Non-compliance with GDPR can result in hefty fines, making it a critical concern for businesses of all sizes. Understanding what GDPR entails is crucial for maintaining data privacy and supporting digital rights.

At the heart of the GDPR is the principle of “data minimization,” which stipulates that companies should only collect, store, and process the bare minimum of personal data necessary for their operations. It also mandates businesses to uphold various user rights, such as the right to access, correct, and delete their personal data. Likewise, companies must ensure that data processing activities are transparent and that explicit consent is obtained from individuals before their data is used.

The GDPR also introduced the idea of “privacy by design and by default.” This means that businesses must incorporate data protection measures from the initial stages of product or service design and default settings must be oriented to protect user privacy. Moreover, GDPR holds companies accountable for data breaches, requiring them to notify users and the relevant authorities within 72 hours of identifying the breach.

Another significant aspect of the GDPR is its global reach. Even if a company is not based in the EU, if it offers goods or services to EU citizens or monitors their behavior, it must comply with the GDPR. Therefore, the GDPR has ushered in new standards in data protection, influencing similar legislation in other regions such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States.

In total, the GDPR represents a profound shift in the way personal data is managed globally. It underlines the importance of respecting individual privacy rights and taking robust measures to protect data. Regardless of geographical boundaries, businesses today must make concerted efforts to understand and comply with the GDPR to avoid legal repercussions and to establish trust with their users. As we increasingly rely on digital platforms in our daily lives, such data protection laws play a pivotal role in shaping a secure and privacy-respecting digital environment.

GDPR, Data Privacy, and the Challenges Imposed on Businesses

The GDPR’s definition of “personal data” is unfortunately incredibly broad. Home addresses, names, birthdays, photos and even social media posts are all considered Personally Identifiable Information, or PII, as defined under the GDPR.

The GDPR also gives an EU citizen the right to know what PII is being collected, why it’s being collected, and how it’s being used. And if they so choose, EU citizens can require data controllers to transfer, surrender and even delete their PII.

The International Commissioner’s Office (ICO) requires any company doing business with individuals located in the EU to demonstrate they have numerous controls in place to protect EU citizens’ privacy, or face steep fines. Unless these organizations are able to locate, secure and demonstrate the necessary data privacy controls, they won’t achieve GDPR compliance.

Fill the GDPR Compliance Gap: How to Do It Effectively

Navigating the complexities of the GDPR can often seem like a formidable challenge for organizations. However, achieving compliance is non-negotiable and forms a cornerstone of trust and transparency with customers in this data-driven era. Organizations can meet their obligations under the regulation and safeguard PII when they understand GDPR requirements, conduct comprehensive data audits, implement robust data management practices, and foster a culture of privacy, among others. Let’s investigate these steps a little further to uncover the path to successful GDPR compliance.

Understand GDPR Requirements

The first step toward preparing for GDPR compliance gap is to thoroughly understand its requirements. GDPR provides a robust framework that mandates transparency, accountability, and individual rights concerning personal data. The regulation is comprehensive, covering areas such as the lawful basis for data processing, individuals’ rights to access, correct, and delete their data, and breach notification procedures. By having a deep understanding of these requirements, organizations can effectively identify areas of noncompliance and plan corrective measures.

Conduct Comprehensive Data Audits

Data audits are crucial for understanding the type, location, and purpose of personal data held by the organization. Auditing should cover all data types and storage locations, including cloud-based services. This process helps identify gaps in GDPR compliance, such as data held without a valid lawful basis or lack of consent from the data subject. The results of a comprehensive data audit should form the basis for a GDPR compliance roadmap.

Implement Robust Data Management Practices

Following a data audit, organizations should implement robust data management practices to ensure GDPR compliance. This includes creating a data inventory or data map, regular data cleansing to remove redundant or obsolete personal data, and establishing clear policies for data retention and deletion. Furthermore, data minimization practices should ensure that only necessary data is collected and retained.

Invest in Technology and Training

Technology can be a powerful ally in achieving GDPR compliance. Tools such as data classification and data loss prevention software can help automate tasks, improve data security, and minimize human error. However, technology alone is not enough. Organizations must also invest in regular training to ensure employees understand their responsibilities under the GDPR and how to handle personal data securely and respectfully.

Create a Culture of Privacy

Achieving GDPR compliance requires a shift in organizational culture toward prioritizing privacy. This involves making data protection part of everyday business processes and decision-making. A cyber awareness culture means that privacy considerations are not an afterthought, but integrated into the design of products, services, and business practices, a concept known as “Privacy by Design and Default.”

Seek Support From Specialists

For many organizations, GDPR compliance can be a complex and daunting task. In such cases, external help from consultants or legal counsel specializing in data protection can be invaluable. They can provide advice on GDPR interpretation, conduct thorough data audits, and help design a custom GDPR compliance strategy.

By following these steps, organizations can effectively fill the GDPR compliance gap and mitigate the risk of fines and data breaches while enhancing trust and confidence among customers and stakeholders.

GDPR Compliance Checklist for Data Controllers

Data controllers bear a significant responsibility under the GDPR as the custodians of PII. A data controller is an entity or individual who determines the purposes and means of processing personal data. This could be any organization, from private companies to government agencies, having the authority to decide why and how personal data is processed.

Data controllers have the responsibility of implementing necessary measures to ensure GDPR compliance to protect the rights of the data subjects. They must ensure that all data processing activities align with the GDPR’s stringent requirements.

While the path to GDPR compliance can be complex, having a checklist can make the journey manageable and systematic. Here, we provide a detailed GDPR compliance checklist for data controllers. This checklist provides data controllers a guide for systematic and effective data privacy and protection management to facilitate GDPR compliance.

GDPR Requirement Description
Appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) If applicable, appoint a DPO with GDPR expertise to educate the company, conduct audits, and liaise with supervisory authorities.
Understand and Document Data Processing Activities Understand and document all data processing activities, including data collection, processing, storage, access, and deletion protocols.
Obtain Explicit Consent Secure clear, informed consent from data subjects before data processing. Ensure that consent withdrawal is as straightforward as giving consent.
Implement Privacy by Design and by Default Integrate data protection into every stage of data processing, process only necessary data, limit access, and ensure appropriate data retention periods.
Secure Personal Data Protect personal data using technical and organizational measures such as encryption, pseudonymization, and secure IT systems. Regularly test and evaluate these measures for effectiveness.
Respect Data Subject Rights Respect and facilitate data subjects’ rights to access, rectification, erasure, restriction of processing, and data portability. Implement clear procedures to respond to such requests promptly.
Prepare for a Data Breach Develop a data breach response plan that includes identifying and limiting the impact of a breach, notifying the supervisory authority, and informing affected data subjects.
Conduct Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) Conduct DPIAs for high-risk data processing activities to identify and minimize data protection risks.

Let’s take a closer look at these requirements and how data controllers should proceed.

Appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO)

If your organization regularly monitors data subjects on a large scale or processes sensitive data, appointing a Data Protection Officer (DPO) is a requirement under the GDPR. The DPO should know about the GDPR and be able to perform duties such as educating the company about compliance, conducting audits, and serving as the point of contact between the company and any supervisory authorities.

Understand and Document Data Processing Activities

Data controllers must understand the entirety of their data processing activities. This understanding includes knowing what data is being collected, why it’s collected, how it’s processed, where it’s stored, who has access to it, and when and how it’s deleted. All these activities should be well-documented to provide a transparent record of data processing.

Obtain Explicit Consent

One of the pillars of GDPR compliance is obtaining explicit, informed consent from data subjects before processing their data. Controllers should provide clear, straightforward information about how the data will be used and ensure that the support can be withdrawn as quickly as given.

Implement Privacy by Design and by Default

The GDPR introduces the principles of Privacy by Design and Default, which require that data protection be integrated into every stage of the data processing life cycle. Data controllers must ensure that only necessary data is processed, access to the data is limited, and the data is retained only for as long as necessary.

Secure Personal Data

Data controllers are obligated to protect personal data from breaches. This protection involves implementing appropriate technical and organizational measures such as encryption, pseudonymization, secure IT systems, and regularly testing and evaluating them for effectiveness.

Respect Data Subject Rights

The GDPR endows data subjects with specific rights, such as the right to access their data, rectify inaccuracies, erase data, restrict processing, and data portability. Data controllers should establish clear procedures to respond timely and effectively to data subjects’ requests to exercise their rights.

Prepare for Data Breaches

Despite best efforts, data breaches can still occur. Data controllers therefore should have a well-defined data breach response plan. This includes identifying and limiting the impact of the breach, notifying the supervisory authority within 72 hours, and informing affected data subjects without unnecessary delay.

Conduct Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs)

Conducting a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) is necessary for high-risk data processing activities. DPIAs help data controllers identify and minimize data protection risks, aiding GDPR compliance.

PII Discovery: a Critical Component of GDPR Compliance

GDPR compliance requires robust strategies for PII discovery. PII discovery in the context of GDPR compliance refers to the process by which an organization systematically identifies, categorizes, and safeguards personal data used across their network. This is crucial for GDPR compliance, as the regulation has strict guidelines regarding the handling, processing, and storing personal data. PII discovery helps businesses to understand where such data resides, who has access to it, and how it is being secured, thereby helping them avoid severe penalties that could be associated with inadequate data management.

AI and machine learning can serve as powerful tools for automating PII discovery. These technologies can comb through vast amounts of data quickly and accurately, identify hidden patterns, and help classify data according to GDPR principles. By integrating these technologies into data management systems, organizations can build a comprehensive PII inventory, which is critical for maintaining GDPR compliance.

However, PII discovery is only one component of GDPR compliance. Organizations must also implement robust data protection measures, ensuring collected PII is securely stored and processed. They must also maintain clear communication with data subjects, informing them about their data rights, how they are used, and providing mechanisms for consent withdrawal.

Furthermore, data retention policies must be evaluated and updated regularly, with unnecessary PII purged to minimize risk exposure.

Compliance should not be a one-time event, but an ongoing process, and automating PII discovery can reduce manual labor, mitigate human error, and contribute to an organization’s GDPR compliance journey. Enterprise PII discovery thus represents a delicate intersection of technology, privacy, and regulatory compliance.

PII Search: the Secret to GDPR Compliance

PII search is integral to GDPR compliance. This process enables companies to identify, locate, and protect the personal data they hold, a prerequisite under GDPR. Moreover, it helps fulfill data subjects’ rights, such as rectification, deletion, restricted processing, and data portability. In case of data breaches, understanding PII’s location allows companies to assess impacts and respond efficiently.

PII search also aids in minimizing and limiting the unnecessary collection of data. Lastly, demonstrating how organizations locate and manage PII is a key aspect of GDPR compliance and audit requirements. Essentially, PII search empowers organizations to efficiently manage and safeguard personal data, while upholding data subjects’ rights.

Below, we explore the concept of PII search, detailing the necessary processes required for GDPR compliance.

Utilize PII Discovery to Identify and Manage Customer Data

PII discovery aids organizations in locating and managing customers’ personally identifiable information, thereby facilitating GDPR compliance. A PII search tool can identify where PII is stored across different systems and databases within an organization. By doing so, it aids in monitoring and controlling data flow, ensuring data minimization, facilitating data access and erasure requests, and making reporting data breaches more efficient. PII discovery tools are therefore also vital in risk assessment, implementing data protection strategies and complying with privacy regulations like the GDPR.

Get Insight Into All PII With Data Audits

Data audits are an integral part of PII search. They provide insight into the type, location, and purpose of PII within an organization. Audits can highlight potential compliance issues by revealing data that may lack a lawful basis for processing. Regular audits foster a proactive approach toward GDPR adherence, facilitating swift identification and remediation of potential lapses.

Strive for Data Minimization to Achieve Proper Data Management

Effective data management practices are central to PII search and, obviously, GDPR compliance. These practices include data minimization (retaining only necessary data), ensuring data accuracy, and secure data storage. Clear data retention policies, encompassing data purging timelines, prevent unnecessary PII accumulation.

Supplement PII Search With Technology Integrations

Advancements in technology offer crucial tools for PII search. Data classification tools can automate the categorization and labeling of PII, simplifying its management. Data loss prevention software can enhance data security during processing and transmission. By utilizing these tools, organizations can enhance their PII search efficiency, minimize manual work, and reduce human error risks.

Establish a Privacy-first Culture

Embedding a privacy-first culture is pivotal for effective PII search. Integrating privacy considerations into all business aspects ensures every employee understands their role in GDPR compliance. Regular training can keep staff updated on GDPR requirements, promoting informed decisions when handling PII.

Support PII Search With Consultants

Given the complexity and voluminous data involved in most modern businesses, PII search can be daunting for many organizations. In such cases, assistance from consultants specializing in GDPR compliance can prove beneficial. These experts can perform thorough data audits, recommend efficient data management strategies, and guide the implementation of suitable technological tools.

Kiteworks Helps Organizations Achieve GDPR Compliance

The Kiteworks Private Content Network, enables organizations and their Data Protection Officers (DPOs) to see where PII and other sensitive content resides and empowers them to securely share it beyond their enterprise borders while maintaining all the controls required to achieve GDPR compliance.

Kiteworks supports GDPR compliance in the following ways:

  • Data Protection: Kiteworks provides robust encryption for data at rest and in transit, ensuring the protection of personal data.
  • Access Control: Granular access controls, featuring role-based permissions, allow organizations to control who can access PII, ensuring that only authorized personnel with “need-to-know” privileges can access sensitive information. In addition, all file activity—namely who sends what to whom and when—is monitored, tracked, and recorded.
  • Data Breach Notification: In the event of a data breach, Kiteworks can provide a detailed audit log highlighting data access and user activities, helping organizations comply with the GDPR’s 72-hour notification requirement.
  • Data Portability: Kiteworks supports the right to data portability by allowing users to securely access, transfer, and download their personal data with secure file sharing or a virtual data room.
  • Data Minimization: Kiteworks allows organizations to control the amount and type of personal data that is collected and stored, supporting the GDPR principle of data minimization.

To learn more about Kiteworks and how it can support your organization’s efforts to achieve GDPR compliance, schedule a custom demo today.

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