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A Data Subject Access Request (DSAR) is the means by which individuals request that your enterprise discloses what personal data it holds on them and how you use or intend to use it. Submitting DSARs is one of the Data Subject Rights granted to consumers under data privacy laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These laws not only give consumers awareness about their rights over their personal data but also provide the tools necessary to exercise them.

Legal sections within the CCPA and GDPR outlining businesses’/data controllers’ responsibility to adhere to DSARs:

DSARs and CCPA

Cal. Civ. Code § 1798.130(a)

In order to comply with Sections 1798.100, 1798.105, 1798.110, 1798.115, and 1798.125, a business shall in a form that is reasonably accessible to consumers:

  1. Make available to consumers two or more designated methods for submitting requests for information required to be disclosed pursuant to Sections 1798.110 and 1798.115, including, at a minimum, a toll-free telephone number. A business that operates exclusively online and has a direct relationship with a consumer from whom it collects personal information shall only be required to provide an email address for submitting requests for information required to be disclosed pursuant to Sections 1798.110 and 1798.115.
  2. Disclose and deliver the required information to a consumer free of charge within 45 days of receiving a verifiable consumer request from the consumer. The business shall promptly take steps to determine whether the request is a verifiable consumer request, but this shall not extend the business’ duty to disclose and deliver the information within 45 days of receipt of the consumer’s request. The time period to provide the required information may be extended once by an additional 45 days when reasonably necessary, provided the consumer is provided notice of the extension within the first 45-day period. The disclosure shall cover the 12-month period preceding the business’ receipt of the verifiable consumer request and shall be made in writing and delivered through the consumer’s account with the business, if the consumer maintains an account with the business, or by mail or electronically at the consumer’s option if the consumer does not maintain an account with the business, in a readily useable format that allows the consumer to transmit this information from one entity to another entity without hindrance. The business may require authentication of the consumer that is reasonable in light of the nature of the personal information requested, but shall not require the consumer to create an account with the business in order to make a verifiable consumer request. If the consumer maintains an account with the business, the business may require the consumer to submit the request through that account.

DSARs and GDPR

Article 15 GDPR

  1. The Data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller confirmation as to whether or not personal data concerning him or her are being processed, and, where that is the case, access to the personal data and the following information:
    • The purposes of the processing;
    • The categories of personal data concerned;
    • The recipients or categories of recipient to whom the personal data have been or will be disclosed, in particular recipients in third countries or international organisations;
    • Where possible, the envisaged period for which the personal data will be stored, or, if not possible, the criteria used to determine that period;
    • The existence of the right to request from the controller rectification or erasure of personal data or restriction of processing of personal data concerning the data subject or to object to such processing;
    • The right to lodge a complaint with a supervisory authority;
    • Where the personal data are not collected from the data subject, any available information as to their source;
    • The existence of automated decision-making, including profiling, referred to in Article 22(1) and (4) and, at least in those cases, meaningful information about the logic involved, as well as the significance and the envisaged consequences of such processing for the data subject.
  2. Where personal data are transferred to a third country or to an international organisation, the data subject shall have the right to be informed of the appropriate safeguards pursuant to Article 46 relating to the transfer.
  3. The controller shall provide a copy of the personal data undergoing processing. For any further copies requested by the data subject, the controller may charge a reasonable fee based on administrative costs. 3Where the data subject makes the request by electronic means, and unless otherwise requested by the data subject, the information shall be provided in a commonly used electronic form.
  4. The right to obtain a copy referred to in paragraph 3 shall not adversely affect the rights and freedoms of others.

An enterprise served with a DSAR is legally obligated to fulfill these requests within a limited timeframe to avoid non-compliance. This is why automating the processing of DSARs is necessary to respond within the aforementioned timeframe. So, let’s discuss the importance of DSARs, how they differ under CCPA and GDPR, and how your business can cost-effectively prepare for and automatically respond to DSARs, which are likely to increase substantially in a post-CCPA world.

Who Are the Beneficiaries of DSARs?

DSARs give consumers unprecedented control over their personal information stored by organizations, from access to data and requesting information on stored data to requesting information on the data safeguards the organization provides. With CCPA, consumers can request DSARs twice a year at no cost whatsoever.

For businesses, speedy and accurate fulfillment of DSARs substantially boosts their brand image while also ensuring compliance with CCPA regulations. However, some estimates put the cost of the fulfillment of each DSAR could be in the thousands, since it requires data gathering across a multitude of systems, putting them in one place, going through data records and compiling it all in a comprehensive report. Moreover, fulfilling each DSAR can take weeks. This is where a solution based on automation can be a potent weapon.

 

Example of a Data Subject Access Request

DSARs under CCPA vs. GDPR

While both CCPA and GDPR provide consumers with mechanisms to exercise greater control over their data, there are some fundamental differences between how much power a consumer has under each law. Let’s have a look:

 

How to Prepare for DSARs

Many expect that the number of receiving DSARs have increased significantly after CCPA. So let’s explore what is required and how to prepare:

  • Responding to a Data Subject Request

Organizations have 45 days to respond and fulfill a customer’s data subject request, in a transferable electronic format. These obligations may vary depending on the customer’s request and how their information is handled.

  • Manage Deletion Requests

Deletion requests involve not only team members from within the organization, but also all third-party vendors and partners with whom the personal information has been shared.

  • Communicating with the Consumer

CCPA requires the disclosure of rights and communication about DSARs, as does the GDPR. The rights given to consumers under CCPA and GDPR are similar but not identical. This means that organizations will need to change their communication accordingly.

 

Responding to Data Subject Access Requests

The following are the steps required to process and fulfill a DSAR:

  1. Register, log and authenticate DSAR
    Organizations must register data requests, log them in a system of record, and authenticate the user before starting work on their fulfillment, either manually or automatically.
  2. Collect personal information
    For organizations to prepare for DSARs, they will need to discover and categorize the personal data they process and store. This data is often stored on an array of systems within an organization and externally as well. The personal data must also be mapped to the individual owner of that data to facilitate the processing of DSARs. Leveraging a People Data Graph can help streamline this process. The collection of this data must also be done in a safe manner to avoid additional data sprawl which could translate to greater liability.
  3. Review and approve the information
    After gathering the necessary information, organizations need to review the data and make sure it meets the DSAR requirements without disclosing proprietary information or the personal data of any other data subject.
  4. Safely deliver customer information
    The final response must then be delivered to the consumer securely. If a data breach or leakage occurs, it can cost as much as $750 per leaked record.

Here are several risks associated with fulfilling a data subject request you must watch out for:

  • Requesters cannot be trusted without authentication.
  • Managing deadlines is crucial to fulfilling DSARs.
  • Data scanning should be automated, and done in a way that does not replicate copies of the data
  • Data processing should be centralized in a safe workplace to avoid personal data sprawl
  • Consumer responses should be encrypted to avoid data breaches.
  • The activity must be tracked to keep a record for validating compliance
  • Data delivered to the wrong person can be catastrophic.

One important factor to consider is that using traditional means will do more harm than good. For example, using emails to deal with DSARs can be dangerous as the risk of data sprawl increases when sending and receiving data over a system that is not secure. Moving personal information in an unencrypted system increases the risk of data breaches. It takes an average of 196 days for an organization to pick up on a data breach, making it essential for enterprises to fortify and automate their systems to protect themselves from any data breach.

What needs to be included in a DSAR?

When responding to a DSAR, organizations are required to have the following heading in their response:

  • A confirmation that the data subject’s personal data is processed.
  • Access to the data subject’s personal information.
  • State all the lawful basis for processing data.
  • Mention the period, or criteria for which data will be stored.
  • Any relevant information  about how this data has been obtained.
  • Any relevant information about automated decision-making and profiling.
  • The names of any third parties information is shared with.

Key Takeaways

Here are some highlights:

  • DSARs are a mechanism by which consumers request access to their personal information held by organizations such as yours.
  • Responding to these requests presents several operational challenges.
  • Fulfilling DSARs will prove to be especially costly (average cost of $1,400 per each request when fulfilled manually)
  • A comprehensive DSR robotic automation solution can reduce cost and complexity and limit legal liability

Large organizations may have hundreds of millions of records about their consumers, often spread across an array of systems. Sorting this data and creating a data inventory to cope with DSARs is a challenging task that requires organizations to automate their current practices.

At SECURITI.ai, we have solutions that offer robotic automation, machine learning and secure cross-channel collaboration to help your business stay prepared for CCPA.

Next Steps

To learn more about automation and orchestration of data subject requests and how much time you can save, check out the video below or schedule a demo to see it live, in action!

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