For modern businesses, data has become the most valuable asset. However, organizations are continually bombarded by daily threats that emanate from potential data breaches which can cost an organization dearly. The Covid pandemic brought with it many challenges and organizations had to adapt for survival. Organizations implemented alternative methods of working such as remote/ work from home. This has come with a lot of data privacy concerns ranging from privacy to compliance requirements.
To ensure data privacy, there are 5 main pillars of data privacy which include: appointment of a data protection officer, conducting of privacy impact assessment (PIA), formulation of a privacy management program (PMP), execution of data privacy and protection measures, and preparation of data breach management protocols.
1. Appointment of a Data Protection Officer (DPO)
To successfully ensure compliance with industry standards and implementation of data privacy regulations, there is a need for a person responsible fin handling all this – a DPO. this is very beneficial since, in most countries, companies are required to comply with data protection laws. A DPO does not only prove compliance with DPAs but is also a big step in ensuring high-level protection of an organization’s information.
The primary responsibility of a DPO is to ensure that data processing within the organization complies with the relevant data protection regulations. For one to be appointed into this position, specific attention must be paid to the individual’s expert knowledge of Data Protection Acts, privacy policies, and best practice and data processing requirements of the organization. It is also very important to ensure that a DPO operates independently in its execution of duties. In this way, the DPO will have powers to investigate and will not receive instructions from other parties on how to perform their duties.
2. Conducting of privacy impact assessment (PIA)
A privacy impact assessment (PIA) is an evaluation of the gathering, utilization, dispensing, and maintenance of Personally Identifiable Information (PII). This is normally done before data processing, especially in situations where the result could lead to high risk for the rights and freedom of the ordinary person. A PIA enables an organization to communicate openly to the common people on how data is handled, how issues of privacy are dealt with, and the protection of information. A PIA, therefore, has to be drafted in a language that is easily understandable by the public. It is reviewed annually just to ensure that it is precise and up to the minute. Some of the objectives of a PIA include:
3. Formulation of a privacy management program (PMP)
A PMP is an organized structure that facilitates organizations in fulfilling their data protection legal compliance requirements, clients’ expectations, meeting privacy rights, and alleviating the risk of data breaches in the processing of personal data. It implements an all-around approach to data privacy and protection. A PMP reduces the possibility of a data breach, maximizes the capability to handle existing problems, and lowers the negative impact that would accrue in the case of a data breach. It shows how dedicated an organization is to strengthening trust among its clients through explicit information strategies and procedures. A PMP helps in the creation of a privacy manual which serves as a quick reference to an organization’s employees on the steps being taken to ensure the safety of personal data under their care. It has 3 major components namely:
4. Execution of data privacy and protection measures
This involves having a course of action in place at the company, physical and technical level, as far as data privacy is concerned. The organization needs to engage employees in frequent training to steer clear of data breaches that come as a result of carelessness and failure to pay attention. Any work-related agreements that the company will enter into, need to be reviewed by a DPO to find out whether they’re in line with the relevant DPAs.
Policies need to clearly convey to the employees, in a manner that helps them understand their importance.
5. Preparation of data breach management protocols
Every organization needs an elaborate and comprehensive data breach response plan since data breaches are inevitable. According to the GDPR (Point 85) “a personal data breach may if not addressed in an appropriate and timely manner, result in physical, material or non-material damage to natural persons,” such damage may include:
A data breach management plan enables an institution to respond quickly to a data breach thus minimizing the impact on the affected persons, lowering the cost that would have been incurred as a result, and preserving the institution’s reputation. Formulation of a data breach management protocol should be done by a qualified professional who is able to conduct training and simulations. This will ensure an immediate response in case a breach occurs.
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