Privacy Ref Blog

Burying your head in the sand won’t make Data Protection requirements go away

Recently, I had dinner with  a colleague that I had not seen in several years. Their company, a multinational with global operations, had undergone several changes in that time. When the dust settled, this friend had been tapped as “privacy manager”. Along with corporate counsel (part time for privacy), they decided that, even under GDPR, they did not need a Privacy / Data Protection Officer . Huh?

We don’t collect personal information only business information

My recollection of the company we were discussing is that they have operations throughout the world providing goods and services to local customers. The company held an incorrect assumption that the company does not collect personal information. The only information they collect is related to the organizational information of their customers.

Organizational information, however, is considered personal information in many jurisdictions. Where I work, my title, and my contact information, while being organizational information, are all part of my personal information.

I also suggest that sales representatives often collect personal information of prospects and customers to help build relationships. Contact information (business and personal), birth dates, anniversaries, information on family members, and life-cycle events are some of the things a sales rep may collect. Typically, this personal information finds its way into the company’s information systems like customer relationship managers or email systems.

Let’s also keep employees’ information in mind. There is a vast amount of personal information about employees and their families that a company collects.

Our major focus is not processing that information

The company we were discussing is a manufacturer. Their primary business may not be processing of personal information, but processing that information is a necessary activity to operate the business.

Customer relationship management, direct marketing, call center, human resource management, recruiting, email management, and order fulfillment are just a few of the systems a business needs to operate. All of these have some privacy risk associated with them. (You can add manual process to this list as well.)

We have a privacy policy

The company has a privacy policy. The approach used by the company is to let employees and managers ensure that the policy is followed.

Simply having a privacy policy and crossing your fingers hoping that everyone is following it is risky. There must be some independent oversight of the policy to assure its requirements are being met.

Not in this case, but in others, I have had conversations with corporate counsel who did not want to implement a compliance program because it might uncover some privacy activity that would need to be addressed due to policy or legal requirements. (Isn’t that what compliance programs are for?) Just because you don’t know about a privacy incident doesn’t make the organization less liable for it.

Privacy and data protection requires investment

As the evening wore down it became clear that the company was just not making an appropriate investment in privacy and data protection. The “bury your head in the sand” approach was allowing them to ignore the need for the investment.

Privacy incidents will occur. An organization can make an investment in being proactive and preventative or pay heavily in fines, remediation costs, and brand damage when incidents are publicly discovered.

  • author's avatar

    By: Bob Siegel

    Bob Siegel, the founder and President of Privacy Ref, Inc., has extensive professional experience in the development and improvement of privacy policies and procedures, the definition of performance metrics to evaluate privacy maturity, and the evaluation of compliance. He utilizes a combination of alignment, adaptability, and accountability strategies to guide organizations in achieving their privacy goals.

    He is a Fellow of Information Privacy (FIP) and a Certified Information Privacy Professional, awarded from the International Association of Privacy Professionals, with concentrations in U.S. private-sector law (CIPP/US), US public sector law (CIPP/G), European law (CIPP/E), and Canadian law (CIPP/C). He is also a Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM) and Privacy Technologist (CIPT).

    Siegel is a member of the IAPP faculty, has served on the Certification Advisory Board for the CIPM program the Publications Advisory Board.

    Siegel also writes the blog “Operational Privacy” on CSOonline.com

  • author's avatar

  • author's avatar

    CCPA is a Shiny Object
    What you don’t know may (pleasantly) surprise you
    CNIL’s Google Fine of 50 million Euros
    In praise of a privacy compliance program
    Looking to 2019 Privacy Plans

    See all this author’s posts

Privacy Ref provides consulting and assessment services to build and improve organizational privacy programs. For more information call Privacy Ref at (888) 470-1528 or email us at info@privacyref.com

Posted on September 18, 2017 by Bob Siegel
Tags: , , , , ,

« »

No Responses

Comments are closed.


« »

Subscribe to our mailing list

Please fill out the form below.

Required

Want to find out more?

Simply go to the contact page, fill out the form, and someone from Privacy Ref will be in touch with you. You can also send an email to info@privacyref.com or call (888) 470-1528.

News

May 31, 2019

We are now offering Privacy Professional Training from the IAPP at our Houston and Nashua offices in addition our Delray Beach location.

Latest Blog Posts

June 13, 2019

Fifty States, Fifty Laws


The big news lately is that individual states are proposing their own privacy laws. California has the California Consumer Protection Act and now New York and Maine have also proposed laws. There has been discussion of a federal law, however it seems unlikely that any kind of landmark legislation on privacy passes through to be signed. How is a business to be ready for up to 50 different laws?

Continue reading this post...

June 12, 2019

Privacy Comes at a Price
At Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference last week, the message was all about Privacy. Apple has been more privacy-minded than other tech companies – that’s not news and it’s why I have an iPhone. They’ve introduced some interesting privacy features, such as showing location tracking, which I think is pretty cool. I don’t leave my location setting on, rather turn it on when I need directions and then back off. It’s tedious, but I’m not confident that when I’ve turned off location services, apps aren’t tracking me even though I said “no”. Sadly, I don’t think no means no on the Internet. So, I’ll be able to see if I’m right or wrong. Continue reading this post...

Other Recent Posts

PRIVACY REF