Digital data must be secured for personal privacy and protection from malicious intent. The regulatory framework and industry best practices for compliance are among the most significant components of the Internet because without these standards, private digital data could be used fraudulently. Most regulations and policies are intended to protect personal and financial information, and they define how data is organized, stored, transferred, and managed.
Data compliance is the activity of obeying the regulations and practices that safeguard data. Many organizations choose to exceed their legal obligations and develop policies and protocols that are far more strict.
Organizations set data compliance goals that align with regulations and standards, conforming to these rules to avoid fines for noncompliance. In the most extreme cases, executives could go to jail for noncompliance, but this is rare.
The underlying goals of data compliance include:
- Protection from security breaches.
- Safeguarding sensitive information from competitors.
- Building the trust of clients and customers.
- Guarding against data loss.
- Building goodwill between the organization and regulatory bodies.
- Promoting accountability within the organization.
The four compliance standards detailed below were selected because they are among the ones you are most likely to encounter. There are thousands more, however, so consider checking the regulatory framework specific to your industry and geographic area.
- The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)is the most comprehensive data protection standard. It mandates that people have the right to know the data that organizations are retaining about them, and how the data can be used. In addition, this standard requires obtaining consent, defines the amount of data an entity may hold, clarifies the rights of individuals, and describes the protocols for reporting data breaches. Any entity that interacts with an individual subject to the EU’s jurisdiction is required to follow this standard.
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) is a U.S. law pertaining to how organizations with medical data ensure the confidentiality and security of those records. The Act requires that such documents may only be seen by persons with valid reasons for viewing them, and requires audit trails for every interaction with that data.
- The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCIDSS) is an industry-based set of rules that protects customers’ financial information. Noncompliance can result in significant fines or termination of service with payment processors.
- The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) protects the privacy and applies to companies that (1) receive 50%+ of their revenue from the sale of customer information; (2) have gross revenues above $25 million; and (3) use or are the repositories of the personal information of at least 50,000 households, businesses, consumers, or devices. Organizations do not need to have a physical presence in California to be subject to this provision.
Best Practices for Compliance
- Identify the personal data your organization holds and know how it is being used.
- Secure personal data with a comprehensive strategy that guards against breaches and unauthorized disclosure during the data’s entire life cycle.
- Document and review data protection policies, and conduct regular risk assessments.
- Promptly comply with all applicable standards.
- Assign tasks and responsibilities related to data protection.
- Understand your organization’s ethical data privacy obligations to your customers and clients.
- Create processes for handling customer complaints, deleting information, producing personal information reports, responding to data requests, and correcting data breaches.
- Provide adequate training for your compliance program.
Failure to comply with data laws, regulations and standards can cost your organization dearly with tarnished public perception, fines and other punishments, and financial losses due to data breaches. Data compliance should be a top priority for every organization that handles sensitive customer data. Commit to reviewing your organization’s accountability and upgrade compliance procedures immediately.
For companies handling digital information, a Trust Center is essential in helping your customers understand how you are keeping their data private and secure and what you are actively doing in keeping your compliance with data protection and privacy laws.
You may contact one of our trust center experts to find out how to get started with a reliable trust center.
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