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What is Privacy Management? Benefits & Tools

By Securiti Research Team
Published August 21, 2023

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What is Privacy Management? A Quick Overview of Benefits & Tools

Globally, organizations are beginning to feel the immense pressure of not only controlling the increasing proliferation of data coming from myriad endpoints but also keeping that data well-guarded against unintentional data leaks and cyber threats. As the data moves from physical, on-premise infrastructures to virtual data centers and data lakes, threat vectors also tend to snowball accordingly.

Apart from that, the data privacy and protection practices by businesses further add to the growing concerns of internet users. To put things into perspective, 40% of internet users don’t trust that companies use their data ethically. Similarly, 51% of people feel worried about their data being sold, while 47% fear the possibility of their data being hacked.

To help ease the privacy concerns of internet users and fend off digital threats, governments around the world responded with strict data privacy laws and standards, such as the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of the United States for the protection of health data.

Here, data privacy management comes into the picture. Organizations must create and implement a robust data privacy management system should they wish to ease their customers’ concerns, retain their trust, and ensure compliance with myriad data privacy laws.

What is Data Privacy Management?

Gartner defines privacy management as a framework or a tool that enables organizations to assess their data processing activities and ensure that it is in compliance with privacy regulations. It is a structured approach of combining several disciplines into frameworks and policies that allow organizations to meet regulatory compliance, protect individual rights as well as meet the expectations of their business partners or clients.

To facilitate data privacy management within an organization, organizations must conduct timely data privacy impact assessments, fulfill the privacy rights of individuals and analyze and record the flow of corporate data, including both personal and sensitive personal data, such as the purpose of processing and retention policy. A privacy management tool must further help organizations track, remediate, and report data breach incidents timely and accurately and have documented privacy policies and notices for personnel and consumers.

As it can be assumed that privacy management spans multiple departments and disparate teams, right down to the bottom of a corporate hierarchy, involving personnel that request or manage customer data. A privacy management program may include chief data officers, chief privacy officers, compliance officers, privacy analysts, and security analysts, to name a few. Since multiple teams and departments are involved, apart from the growing number of data ingestion points and the data itself, traditional privacy management tools driven by manual practices may result in miscommunications between departments, increasing human error in handling data privacy concerns and more chances of regulatory violations.

Here, modern, automated privacy management is the only feasible solution to ensure the uniform implementation of data privacy policies across the organization and eventually ensure compliance with applicable privacy laws.

Why Organizations Must Establish a Privacy Management Framework

The immense proliferation of data makes it difficult for organizations to keep track of corporate data, including personal and sensitive personal data. Without the needed insights into the data, it is challenging for organizations to assess which data type is subject to which regulatory requirement. Without a well-established privacy management solution, the consequences of not having those insights or ensuring regulatory compliance can be fairly significant.

Avoid Financial Damage

Financial or legal damage is the most significant concern of not having effective and efficient data privacy management. Global privacy regulations come with hefty fines and penalties to put a tight leash on businesses that tend to deviate from ethical data privacy practices or have inadequate security measures.

Moreover, regulatory bodies around the world are ever so vigilant and strict in finding and penalizing organizations that are found to be violating privacy regulations. Take, for instance, the combined fine of $72 million on Google and Meta by South Korean watchdogs for tracking and using consumer data for targeted advertisement without their consent.

Prevent Reputational Loss

For corporations, the fear of reputational loss exceeds financial damages since it is easier to recover money than the reputation, which is further followed by customer trust. When data breaches occur, it increases the concerns of consumers regarding their data leaks and the following abuse of their data. Their rightful concern eases down a bit once they hear from the company about its efficient response to the breach.

When companies fail to report the breach and remediation steps to authorities and the impacted individuals promptly, they eventually attract regulatory fines and loss of customer trust. Consequently, consumers start leaving the business or switching to any other service provider, thereby leading to an adverse impact on the company’s reputation.

The loss of a company’s market reputation also significantly impacts potential investment opportunities.

Safeguard Consumer Data

It is a pretty common adage in the security realm that you can’t protect what you don’t know. As data grows bigger and bigger, the ability to track it becomes even more challenging, especially when it includes unstructured data, which makes up 80% of the entire data globally.

Privacy management tools enable companies to get valuable insights into data, including metadata, which includes sensitive data tags, sources that contain personal or sensitive data, retention policies, and existing security guardrails around that data. Companies can better leverage those details to prevent security breaches and place optimal data protection measures.

Reduce Errors and Oversight

There are many cogs that keep the wheels moving when it comes to regulatory requirements. Teams must ensure proper compliance and seamless communication across departments, manage proper data inventory, ensure effective access controls, prepare proper privacy notices, send prompt breach notifications, conduct impact assessments, perform vendor risk assessments, and more. Leaving all such responsibilities to traditional, manually operated systems of practices can result in continuous human errors and oversight.

A robust, automated privacy management system can prevent errors and oversight, streamlining privacy-enabled business practices across departments.

Applicable Privacy Laws and Regulations

The data privacy landscape has evolved quite exponentially over the past few years, mostly owing to the fact that there are now more than 120 countries that have data privacy and protection legislation in place. Reasonably, it is those detailed sets of provisions, covered under various regulations, that are considered the core pillars of modern data privacy management.

Regulatory compliance is an important goal of data privacy management. An ideal data privacy management framework within an organization must ensure the fulfillment of the following data privacy principles that are found in most data privacy laws around the world.

Data Protection & Processing Principles

At the heart of any privacy management framework, there need to be certain foundational principles that keep the framework together, make it transparent, add credibility to it, and ensure that the organization’s data processing activities are in accordance with global privacy laws. Some of those principles, as per most global data privacy laws, including the GDPR, include:

  • Lawfulness, fairness, and transparency: The first principle is that organizations must ensure that their data collection and processing activities must be “lawful, fair, and transparent.” To ensure lawfulness, organizations must have a basis for processing personal data. Just because they are able to collect an individual's personal data does not mean that they should do it - there needs to be a reason or a lawful ground related to their business function that justifies their data collection and use.To be fair and transparent, organizations must ensure that they remain transparent with their users, their privacy policies are easy to access and intelligible to users consisting of all the details regarding data collection, data processing, data controllers, third parties, and data subjects' rights.
  • Purpose limitation: Organizations must collect and process data only for any legitimate, specific, or explicit purpose.
  • Data minimization: It is imperative to ensure that data should be limited, relevant, and adequate enough to achieve the processing purpose for which it was collected.
  • Accurate: The accuracy principle requires organizations to check for the correctness and completeness of the data, and if it isn’t, then it must either be deleted or corrected.
  • Storage limitation: Data must only be stored or retained until the period it fulfills the purpose for which it was collected and must not be retained after achieving the processing purpose.
  • Integrity and confidentiality: Organizations ought to have data protection measures in place to prevent data leaks and unauthorized access.
  • Accountability: Organizations must be held responsible for ensuring all the above six principles through documented compliance.

Legal Basis for Processing

The legal basis is one of the most important pillars of privacy management as it defines the legitimate justification for data processing. Under most privacy laws, to ensure a lawful basis for data processing, organizations must prove any of the following justifications:

  • Consent: For certain data processing activities, you can process a user’s data if they have explicit consent for processing. For consent to be a valid basis for data processing, it needs to be freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous. Ensure that your privacy management framework takes into account all the important provisions related to consent, such as exceptions to consent, the right to withdraw consent, and the means to obtain it, depending on the applicable privacy laws.
  • Performance of a contract: You can process a user’s data to honor the contract or agreement made between the organization and the user.
  • Legal obligations: Another legal basis for data processing is compliance with a legal obligation which means that you can process a user’s data to honor any legal requirement that is applicable to your organization. For example, you are required to provide details on your employees’ salaries to the local tax authorities under the applicable employment law.
  • Vital interests: Organizations can process a user’s data to protect the vital interest of the data subject or the interest of another natural person, such as processing a user’s health data to save their life in an emergency situation.
  • Public interests: This legal basis usually applies to public bodies that need to process the data to perform a task conducted in the exercise of official authority.
  • Legitimate interests: You can also process personal data based on your legitimate interests provided the processing is necessary, proportionate to its purposes, and implemented in the least intrusive manner taking into consideration the protection of rights and freedoms of data subjects.

For more guidance, read Article 6 of the GDPR: Explained

Privacy Assessments

Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) and Data Processing Impact Assessments (DPIAs) are important for organizations if they are developing a new product and are about to conduct a data processing activity that is likely to cause high risk to individuals respectively.

Privacy assessments enable organizations to evaluate their data privacy practices and mechanisms to ensure that their users aren’t exposed to unwarranted security or privacy risks. It further reduces the risks of future data breaches and contributes to an organization’s compliance efforts.

A privacy management program must initiate privacy assessments by first having a detailed record of their data collection processes to identify risk exposures to individuals and then resolving and mitigating the identified risks.

Data Subject Rights

Most data privacy regulations provide many rights to data subjects, thereby giving them control over their personal data. The number of privacy rights given to users may vary from one legislation to another, but they may fall into any of the following categories, such as:

  • Right to request/access information: Right to obtain confirmation as to whether or not personal data is being processed and access the copy of personal data.
  • Right to change/correct information: Right to correction of inaccurate, incomplete, out-of-date personal data.
  • Right to delete information: Right to obtain deletion/erasure of personal data.
  • Right to object: Right to object to certain processing of data.
  • Right to withdraw: Right to withdraw consent or opt-out of certain or all processing of data.
  • Right to data portability: Explicit right to receive data in a structured, commonly used, machine-readable format and transmit data from one controller to another.
  • Right to object to automated decision making: Right to review or not be subject to decisions based solely on automated processing, including profiling, which produces legal effects concerning the data subject or similarly significantly affects him/her.
  • Right to restriction of processing: Right to restrict the processing of personal data to certain purposes or to permanently/temporarily freeze the processing of personal data.
  • Right to opt-out of selling or sharing: Right to opt-out of selling or sharing personal data.

Privacy management tools must ensure that they must inform users regarding their privacy rights and how to exercise those rights through privacy notices. There must be effective, accessible, and easy-to-use mechanisms in place to enable users to submit their requests.

[Download Whitepaper] Global Data Subject Rights (DSRs) and Requirements

Cross-Border Data Transfer & Localization

If an organization transfers all or part of its users’ data outside the country, the privacy management program should keep track of that data and ensure that the transfer is made after fulfilling the required regulatory requirements.

For example, the GDPR permits cross-border data transfers to countries only when an adequate level of protection is ensured, or there are safeguards in place to ensure the level of protection is essentially equivalent to that currently guaranteed inside the EU.

In some legislations, organizations are further required to notify individuals about the details of the transfer through privacy notices. Similarly, some privacy regulations require you to keep a copy of the data within the country.

[Download Whitepaper] Cross-Border Data Transfer Requirements Under Global Privacy Laws

Data Breach Incident Response

Data breaches can prove to be a turning point for an organization to the worst if not responded to promptly and efficiently. Not only could it result in hefty regulatory fines, but it may also cause a loss of customer trust and business reputation.

Organizations must include breach assessment as part of their regular assessment programs and a breach impact analysis and response system. The data breach assessment would enable employees to stay aware of the risks that lead to data breaches and their role in preventing them.

The impact analysis and response process enables security teams to discover and identify the data size that has been breached, the categories of impacted data, and the affected individuals. Privacy regulations further require businesses to keep track of such incidents and notify the impacted individuals and concerned regulatory authorities according to the applicable provisions.

A well-established breach impact analysis and response system not only enables teams to identify, remediate, and report breaches but also to prevent future threats. Teams can drive maximum learning for breaches, identify recurring patterns, discover vulnerabilities, and prepare preventive measures accordingly.

[Download Whitepaper] State of Data Breach Notification Laws

Vendor Risk Assessment

One of the aspects that enabled data privacy laws to gain attraction across the globe in such a short time is its ability to regulate a business’s privacy practices from every angle. This includes vendor risk assessments. Privacy laws, such as the GDPR, require businesses to share data with any third parties only if the third parties can guarantee to implement appropriate technical and organizational measures for data privacy and protection.

With a regular vendor risk assessment, security teams can analyze the security and privacy practices and measures of a vendor. Teams can further discover gaps in security measures and remediate them promptly.

Automated Privacy Notifications & Record-Keeping

AI-enabled privacy management framework is critical to meeting compliance and promoting trust at scale. Businesses should automate as many tasks, especially time-consuming and day-to-day operations, as possible. Automation should include privacy notifications and record keeping which are part of most data privacy laws, such as the GDPR.

Meet Compliance & Foster Trust with Securiti Data Privacy

Securiti AI-powered Data Privacy solution enables businesses to automate their privacy operations to discover corporate data across their environment, drive insights into that data, and meet security, privacy, and compliance obligations.

Request a demo to check how Securiti can help you automate your privacy operations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Privacy management involves the strategies, policies, and practices implemented by organizations to ensure the responsible handling of personal data and compliance with data protection regulations.

A privacy management platform is a tool that enables organizations to streamline and automate various aspects of data privacy management, such as consent management and compliance monitoring.

Security and privacy management involve implementing measures to protect both the security of data (against unauthorized access) and the privacy of data (against improper use) within an organization.

Types of privacy management include data governance, data protection policies, consent management, data access controls, privacy impact assessments, and ongoing compliance monitoring.

Data privacy management is important to maintain customer trust, comply with regulations like GDPR, and avoid data breaches that could lead to financial and reputational damage.

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