What is Data Privacy Compliance? Explained and Explored
What is Data Privacy Compliance?
Wherever your organization does business, there are likely to be applicable standards and regulations establishing how it needs to safely handle its data. This is known as data compliance, and the aspect of data compliance concerned with upholding people’s privacy and preventing their data from falling into the wrong hands is called data privacy compliance.
Some data privacy regulations are specific to specialized industries such as healthcare, finance and education, while others apply to all businesses in a given jurisdiction that collect people’s personal information.
Data privacy compliance calls for putting procedures in place to ensure that data containing personal or sensitive information is protected from leakage and exfiltration. Organizations need to document their compliance initiatives on an ongoing basis for later review by regulatory authorities.
Maintaining an effective data privacy compliance strategy is a complex process that will include:
- Identifying and classifying Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Sensitive Personal Information (SPI)
- Encrypting data that needs to be hidden from public view
- Controlling user access to data
- Documenting access and other compliance activities
- Auditing and updating processes as needed to meet applicable standards and requirements
Why is Data Privacy Compliance Important?
Many organizations collect and maintain extensive datasets with information on customers, and there is a strong financial incentive for malicious actors to steal said information. While in most cases attackers seek to make money through extortion or black-market sale of the stolen data, there have also been incidents in which users of a controversial service have been publicly shamed.
In addition to losing control over sensitive information such as payment credentials, passwords and answers to security questions, victims of such breaches face the prospect of all manner of sensitive information about their personal lives being handed over to unauthorized parties.
Stopping data breaches from happening is key to any organization’s good reputation, since problems can cause customers to lose confidence in a brand at best. At worst, they can expose organizations to litigation and risk of bankruptcy. Strict compliance with data privacy regulations and standards may seem burdensome but compared with the alternative, it represents the best first step to keeping your private information safe and in the right hands.
Data Privacy Compliance vs. Data Compliance and Data Security Compliance
What differentiates data privacy compliance from general data compliance?
- Data compliance refers to a variety of standards and practices that are often divided into subsets with names like data security, data sovereignty and data transparency. These overlap with data privacy but are focused on different issues, such as establishing who has a right to certain information or making sure that customers know how their information is being employed. When coming up with a compliance strategy, you should look at all aspects of data compliance, but data privacy compliance is a key area that can usefully be approached using specialized tools and practices.
- Data security compliance deals with how organizations secure data and protect it from unauthorized access, exfiltration and breaches. Obviously, good data security practices are fundamental to ensuring that sensitive data remains private. Key activities such as data classification serve to advance both your data security and data privacy compliance needs, and effective security solutions should be able to help you with both segments of your compliance journey.
- Data privacy compliance is different because of its emphasis on PII and SPI and because the primary focus is on the privacy of customers and other stakeholders. The spread of certain types of PII may not always constitute a direct security risk to a organization but should still be avoided at all costs because of their invasion of privacy. These include data on demographic factors such as race and gender, along with other factors such as home addresses and receipts of purchases. In the wrong hands, this information can expose customers to embarrassment, discrimination and even physical danger.
Data Privacy Regulations and Standards
Some of the major regulations governing data privacy are industry-specific, while others apply to a certain political jurisdiction. Below we will examine some of the key regulations that may apply to your organization, with the understanding that several of these can apply simultaneously depending on where you do business and in what industry you are located.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): EU and EEA member states are bound by this regulation governing the collection and use of personal data, which also serves as a model for many privacy laws emerging worldwide.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): Healthcare records in the United States are governed by HIPAA, which can now be more effectively enforced via the Health Information Technology for Economic Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009.
Passed in 2018, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) aims to empower customers by giving them access to information about what data is being collected about them, as well as establishing their rights to opt out of the sale or sharing of their information and even to request the deletion of information.
Educational records are the special purview of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) in the United States. This federal law is designed to protect the privacy of students and gives parents certain rights with respect to the records, including opportunities to review them and request the correction of errors.
Compliance Isn’t Enough for Privacy
It’s important to remember that the function of compliance programs is to ensure that you are meeting the minimum standards of safe practice. The fact that you are in full compliance doesn’t mean that you’re doing enough to protect your data.
Investing the necessary time and resources into compliance is important for avoiding penalties, and it puts you in a good position to defend against emerging threats. But if your customers feel that their privacy has been violated, they will lose faith in your organization regardless of whether you were technically meeting all of your legal obligations.
That’s why data privacy needs to be a central concern that causes you to go above and beyond what compliance requires. Adhering to up-to-date best practices for your industry and using the right technological solutions can help you to optimize your data privacy procedures.
How Forcepoint Supports Data Privacy Compliance
Forcepoint offers integrated solutions that work in tandem to make compliance procedures quick to implement and painless to maintain.
Boost the accuracy and efficiency of your data classification practices with Forcepoint Data Classification powered by GetVisibility. This solution uses Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to more accurately classify unstructured data, all while covering the broadest range of data types in the industry.
Enjoy the power of the industry’s largest pre-defined policy library to ensure compliance across 80+ countries. Forcepoint DLP is the industry-leading solution to stop data loss and prevent data breaches before they happen with Risk-Adaptive Protection.
This comprehensive Data-first SASE platform allows you to secure access to the web, cloud and private apps and enjoy continuous visibility on how users interact with data to get a clear picture of compliance across the organization. Forcepoint DLP integrates with Forcepoint ONE Security Service Edge (SSE) channels to enable organizations to easily extend their security policies across all channels in just a few minutes. Learn how Forcepoint ONE and Forcepoint DLP combine to deliver Data Security Everywhere.