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.

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

April 16, 2018

IAPP Training Classes
Privacy Ref is proud to announce that we are an official training partner of the IAPP. You now have the opportunity to learn from one of our knowledgeable privacy professionals using the most respected training content in the industry. The robust interactive training offered, aids in the understanding of critical privacy concepts. The contents of the courses are integral to obtaining your privacy certifications and to educate your new team. Learn more here.

Latest Blog Posts

July 9, 2018

Don’t Forget Basic Communication
Most of us have been wrapped up in GDPR preparations for several months. While there are many organizations "not quite there yet", many others have made great strides towards compliance. As we continue to do assessments for clients, both GDPR and General Privacy,  I have been surprised at the frequency of the gap between a privacy official describing their organization's data subjects, information collected, and business processes  with the reality of what is happening. Continue reading this post...

California – The Next GDPR?
Starting January 1, 2020, if you are a for-profit company doing business in California, you may have new data privacy compliance obligations. Specifically, California just enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (the country’s strictest data privacy law to date), placing new privacy mandates on certain businesses with respect to the personal information of consumers (defined as natural persons who are California residents). Many aspects of the new law smack of EU-GDPR influences, such as a new and improved (in other words, broader) definition of personal information and the inclusion of guaranteed consumer rights with respect to such personal information. If your business is already in compliance with the EU’s GDPR, the California law will be nothing new to you. For other businesses, however, you have 18 months to get with the program. Continue reading this post...

Other Recent Posts

PRIVACY REF