Privacy by Design: Unleashing the Data Protection Power

In today’s data-driven world that continues to evolve, data privacy is no longer an option like it once was. Whether it involves the evolving list of compliance requirements from data privacy regulators, avoiding the risk of data breaches, or something else, prioritizing data privacy has never been more important. 

Privacy by Design (PbD) aims to embed privacy in the earliest phases of the development cycle. This means that when your team starts developing a new system, product, or process that involves processing and handling personal information, privacy should be your priority and included into the design from the first day. 

Let’s not wait any longer because in this article, we’ll dive deeper into learning more about why privacy by design is an important approach.

Leveraging the seven principles of privacy by design 

Before you implement privacy by design in your business, you need to learn more about its principles. 

  • Privacy is proactive, not reactive 

Many companies will take a reactive approach when they face a case like a data breach. However, this isn’t the correct approach, instead, you should implement preventive measures. The whole idea is to prevent it from happening in the first place, and this can be done by identifying all potential threats first. 

  • Privacy as the default setting 

In order to align with the best data privacy practices, it’s important that your company’s default settings limit data collection and retention to a minimum, and only collect the data you need. Personal information should only be retained for the period it’s required–No more than that. 

  • Privacy should be embedded in the design 

Privacy shouldn’t ever be an afterthought, and added after. It has to be embedded in the design and infrastructure of your systems. Add risk and impact assessments as part of your key objectives. 

  • Positive-sum, not Zero-sum: Full functionality 

Seeks to accommodate all legitimate interests and objectives in a balanced method. There’s no such thing as privacy vs. security, but you should demonstrate that it’s possible to have both. They work together and shouldn’t cause any difficulties for operations. 

  • End-to-end protection during the entire life cycle

You need to protect data throughout the time you are keeping it stored in your database. This includes applying the security principle which consists of two: 

  • Security: Responsible for the security of personal information
  • Applied security: Standards, methods, and measures applied to assure the CIA (confidentiality, integrity, and availability) of personal data. 

Privacy can never be given out without the right security measures, so it’s important to implement them at all times. 

  • Data visibility and transparency 

Set up accessible policies and procedures that showcase how you hold accountability when processing personal information. These can be made available through openness practice principles. This is used for monitoring, evaluating, and verifying if you are complying with privacy policies. 

  • Keep everything user-centric 

The privacy-by-design framework must be user-centric, giving users complete control over their information. Before data is collected, consent needs to be given by the user. Individuals can always challenge the accuracy of the information they include. 

Implementing privacy by design 

Now that you’ve learned about the seven principles of privacy by design, it’s time to implement what you’ve learned. Here is what you need to do to implement privacy by design into your online business: 

Conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) 

Using a PIA analyzes how your business is handling personal data, if it’s complying with regulations, what risks your IT systems are carrying, and how those risks can be reduced. 

A PIA will document how personal data is collected, processed, stored, and shared to make sure user privacy rights are effectively carried out. It’s one of the earlier steps you need to put into practice during the data lifecycle to make sure you’re on the right path. 

Implement server-side tagging

What is server-side tagging? Server-side tagging is a whole different approach when it comes to tracking data. It makes sure that both your users’ data are hosted on a secure and centralized server that grants you more control over the protection over your users personal data. 

Server-side tags will act as a centralized and proactive buffer between your users and third-parties that track data. This way, third parties don’t have any direct access to any data collection from your website that includes the users personal information. This not only promotes much better control over your data management, but increases data security

Only collect necessary data 

You should never collect more data than required. Only collect the data you need for achieving specific goals and limit access to users that don’t need to access certain data. You’d be surprised by how much you minimize data breaches by limiting data access to certain users. 

Internal fraud is just as common as external and statistics show that 75% of employees have stolen from their employer at least once. 

Choose the right PbD framework for ensuring regulatory compliance 

You have two major data privacy regulators worldwide, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). PbD approaches will differ based on regulations. 

For instance, if you are trying to align with the GDPR, your best bet is to use a design framework that is proposed by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, which initially created the framework. 

After that, we have the CCPA, which is mainly focused on processing data for California residents. In this case, it’s best to use the NIST Privacy Framework, which addresses privacy risks in compliance with the CCPA. 

Keep your privacy policies transparent and always reassess

Always be transparent with your privacy policies and update them when any changes occur. Inform your users on why data privacy matters and avoid illegally collecting data without user consent. Privacy by design needs to always be monitored for making sure you continuously succeed, and this is even more important if you are trying to meet regulatory compliance. 

Conducting regular audits will help make sure you are identifying data protection risks and compliance issues before they become a bigger problem. 

Benefits of using privacy by design 

While we mentioned the principles of privacy by design and how to implement it, it’s now time to dive deeper and talk about the benefits that come with it: 

  • Trust and compliance 

PbD helps you comply with legal and regulatory requirements of data privacy regulators like the GDPR and CCPA. By following their rules, you demonstrate that you are respecting users’ privacy and are protecting their data at all costs. 

This significantly impacts your business reputation and trust among business partners, regulators, customers, and reduces your risks of paying fines, lawsuits, and losing your business reputation. 

  • You become innovative and differentiate from competitors

PbD helps you become innovative and differentiate from competitors with your product and service, IT systems, and overall data processes. You can use this to leverage user privacy as an advantage and a selling point. 

If you are in a competitive industry, like the education, or health one, this is even more beneficial for you. PbD helps you avoid high-costs and time-consuming redesigns that are required for complying with data privacy laws. 

  • Shows how accountable and transparent you are with data management 

PbD increases your data’s accountability and transparency. By incorporating the full lifecycle protection, you are making sure that your personal data is protected at all costs. However, make sure that you have a clear record stating how, why, and when the users personal data is processed. 

  • Reflects your social responsibility and ethics 

Applying end-to-end security shows that you are protecting personal data from external threats, and from any misuse and abuse, such as unauthorized access and more. Additionally, applying the principle of privacy as a positive-sum game shows that you are avoiding false trade-offs between other objectives and privacy. 

  • Improves data security and efficiency 

Last but not least, it improves data security and efficiency. By applying the data minimization principle, you are only collecting necessary data, reducing the chances of a data breach or cyber attack. 

The principle of privacy by default will make sure that your data is protected at all costs,without requiring users to make any difficult decisions regarding how their data is being managed. 

Privacy by design has changed the entire game 

PbD is a world-class framework that helps organizations protect customers’ personal information and build trust. By embedding this framework in the design of your systems and overall practices, you are not only reducing cyber attack risks, but complying with data privacy regulations set by the GDPR and CCPA.

PbD principles require commitment for protecting users data, but the amount of benefits you receive from it are large, and make it a profitable investment for your organization. 

Sudeep Bhatnagar
Co-founder & Director of Business
Sudeep Bhatnagar

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