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Data Privacy

This page describes best practices and related content to assist an organization in creating a data privacy program and implementing it across its operations. The contents are written for the organization's privacy officer. This is the person responsible for defining the privacy policies and ensuring they are implemented and followed.

Why is a data privacy program important?

Data privacy is written into law in many regions today and this legislation/regulation is both broadening the scope of data covered and increasing the penalties for non-compliance. Being able to manage your organization so people's rights relating to their data is a basic capability for doing business in many places.

More importantly, but often forgotten, is that an organization's attitude to the wishes of its customers, employees and business partners over the processing of their data shows clearly in the way the organization operates. The actions taken to ensure data privacy lead to higher levels of customer service, better internal efficiency and a more respectful working environment for employees by creating transparency in the way the organization operates and eliminating unnecessary processing and storing of data.

The role of the privacy officer

The appointment of the privacy officer is the first step in acknowledging the importance of data privacy to the business. The privacy officer provides focus on the privacy challenge and assesses how well the organization is meeting that challenge, making adjustments as necessary. For it is indeed a challenge. Respecting privacy is likely to impact all aspects of the business, which means many of the roles within the organization will change.

What does having a data privacy program entail?

A data privacy program ensures that an organization processes data about an individual (or data that may identify an individual) with respect to that individual's wishes, whilst ensuring that minimal data is used and retained for this processing and it is properly protected so an unauthorized third party can not access it for their own purposes.

At a high level, it entails:

  • Defining the scope of data about individuals that needs special treatment - this data is called personal data. Within the personal data category is sensitive personal data which requires additional care.

  • Documenting where personal data is stored and used.

  • Validating that all processing of personal data is with consent of the individual concerned (called the data subject).

  • Creating, implementing and enforcing governance controls that ensure any changes to the processing of personal data are recorded and validated according to the privacy policies.

  • Providing capability within the digital service where the data subject can exercise their rights with respect to their data.

Getting started

An important place to start is to document and understand the digital services operated by your organization.

These digital services may be:

  • to directly support your customers
  • to support and manage your employees
  • to enable collaboration with business partners
  • to interact with legal and regulatory authorities (such as tax, data protection, ...)

These digital services are likely to identify the principle uses of personal data and where it is stored.

The effort required to build this inventory is going to be proportional to the size and complexity of the organization. This means it needs prioritization and can not be left to the sole effort of the data privacy officer.

The data privacy officer needs to appoint owners of digital services for each business area and have them create the inventory of their digital services since they will be responsible for the correct operation of the services.

Digital service lifecycle

Each digital service will follow a lifecycle for how it is developed from an initial idea, to a working service and then operated and improved until it is decommissioned. Every organization will have its own definition of the lifecycle, but for purposes of illustration, the Egeria community has developed a simple lifecycle that can be used to show how data privacy controls can be introduced.

Figure 1 shows this simple lifecycle with the data privacy controls overlaid. Details of these controls are described below the figure. The aim is to gather information about the data use in a digital service to demonstrate compliance as the digital service is developed in the most cost effective manner and use the associated processes to design, develop, deploy and operate the digital service in a way that ensures data privacy is respected.

Figure 1

Figure 1: The additional steps needed to manage data privacy throughout the digital service's lifecycle

  • Data Value Assessment - review of the types of data expected to be captured and why they are needed
  • Data Processing Impact Assessment - review of the likely impact on an individual (data subject) if their data is processed by this digital service.
  • Data Processing Description - details of the data usage within a digital service.
  • Data Processing Certification - certifies that the data processing description for the digital service accurately reflects its processing.
  • Security Certification - certifies that the infrastructure where the digital service will run is compliant with the appropriate security standards.
  • Contract including Minimal Data Processing Descriptions - these are the terms and conditions that an individual signs up to when they enroll with the service. This determines the legitimate interest of the digital service, which effectively states that this is the minimal use of personal data that the digital service needs to operate.
  • Data Use Report shows the audit report of the data use for the data subject (and/or data controller if this service is a data processor.)
  • Personal Data Management - provides the controls for a data subject to exercise their rights.
  • Data Export - Data subjects have the right to request their data stored by your digital services.
  • Suspicious Activity Report - describes some activity that needs investigating.
  • Data Breach Report - describes a data breach - what happened and the steps to recover from it.
  • Data Breach Impact Assessment - covers the impact of the data breach on the data subjects involved.

Figure 2 shows the people involved at different stages of the digital lifecycle. Notice that some roles are involved in multiple stages. However, when work is going on, these people come together as a team to complete the work. Some of these teams meet regularly. Others meet as necessary.

Figure 2

Figure 2: The additional steps needed to manage data privacy throughout the digital service's lifecycle with the people involved

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