data privacy framework

Any organization that deals in data has a tough balancing act to pull off. On the one hand, users have ever-increasing rights with regards to how their personal data is collected, used, shared, and retained, which are legal requirements in many parts of the world. On the other hand, data is an enormously valuable resource for any organization, providing rich veins of information which can be tapped for everything from strategy to better understanding customers. How do you best strike this balance?

Organizations which fully appreciate the subject of data privacy don’t shy away from it. Instead, they consider their obligations and requirements with a well thought-out data privacy compliance framework. Such frameworks are a structured series of guides that lay out all the compliance requirements that apply to a specific organization.

Here are four reasons why adopting a data privacy framework is a great idea.

#1. Build trust with customers

A customer or user granting you access to their personal data is not only handing over an incredibly valuable asset; they are also showing immense faith in your organization and the service it provides. Unfortunately, in many cases organizations fail to live up to that responsibility, whether it be sharing that data with disreputable third parties without the user’s full knowledge or, in some cases, leaking the data in the form of a data breach.

Having been burned before, increasingly customers are demanding more of an understanding of the data privacy policies of the companies with whom they choose to interact and provide their data to. A proactive data privacy framework can greatly increase trust between customers and organizations through showcasing compliance with various data privacy laws.

#2. It’s a fast track to changing compliance 

Privacy laws are developing around the world. While there are differences between, for instance, Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), as well as the dozens of other data protections and privacy laws cropping up elsewhere, privacy frameworks create a good baseline for compliance.

A framework provides you with a structure for adhering to privacy guidance. Rather than having to start from scratch when it comes to new rules or guidance, a framework will allow you to get things in place, and then make only whatever small tweaks are required depending on local laws.

Already, the rules laid out by CCPA are continuing to evolve. A privacy framework can be modified as you go according to changing compliance. A solid data privacy framework can also help to lessen a compliance workload: not in what is demanded of you, but in the ease of providing the necessary information to show that you’re behaving in accordance with rules. 

#3. An important step for possible mergers and acquisitions 

Maybe you’re planning an exit from your company. Perhaps mergers and acquisitions aren’t on your radar right now, but you wouldn’t write them off if the opportunity came knocking. Perhaps you’re not looking to sell under any condition right now, although you’re on the lookout for additional funding rounds to support your next expansion goals.

Whatever is on the horizon for your organization, having a privacy framework in place can be a major reassurance to investors or other companies who may seek to acquire or partner with you. With privacy an increasingly hot topic, and the potential fines for failing to protect data correctly running into the millions of dollars, having a privacy framework in place could be worth its weight in gold.

It would be nice to think that organizations aren’t purely focused on this area for the financial incentives. However, this is one case where good financial sense and ethical best practices cross over very satisfactorily.

#4. Increase opportunities for business 

Related to the above point, but more focused on carrying out business right now, is that a data privacy framework will increase opportunities for commerce and business across borders. Increasingly, businesses rely on a flow of data that crosses borders in order to extract maximum value.

Guidelines like Europe’s GDPR contain plenty of provisions regarding when it is appropriate for data belonging to EU subjects to be moved and accessed outside of the European Union. For this reason, having a clearly articulated data privacy framework can highlight the necessary protection policies in order to make this kind of cross-border data flow feasible and streamlined.

Build a data privacy framework that works

There’s no single-size-fits-all template for a data privacy framework. However, by developing one, organizations can reap plenty of rewards that are critical for doing business in the 2020s. There is certainly complexity involved in carrying this out effectively.

Fortunately, there are cyber security experts who will be able to help develop a bespoke framework — complete with measures such as data loss prevention, data masking, privileged user monitoring, user rights management, and more — to fit any company’s requirements. Doing so is one of the smartest moves an organization can make.