Data Protection Compliance
Explore our business data compliance services and get the specialist legal advice and guidance you need to support your business. We love working with businesses to help them understand the requirements of the data protection laws and how they may apply to your own business.
Ensure your business is always data compliant
Businesses like yours must take data protection measures to ensure that you are able to work with other businesses or clients who will trust you. You, therefore, need to be able to demonstrate that you are able to protect and secure any personal data that you are responsible for.
Adhering to strict data protection laws and regulations is a challenge that all businesses now face, or they may face regulatory fines by the ICO (or any other applicable regulatory body), which can be as much as £17.5 million or 4% of the annual turnover for failing to be compliant or meet compliance regulations.
In addition, the damage and reputational harm to your business if any personal information is leaked or compromised, demonstrates the importance of having in place robust policies and procedures to ensure compliance and minimise harm.
What is data compliance?
Data compliance is the process of implementing and maintaining a series of data protection protocols, involving key processes and procedures which will protect personal data to the standards required in the data protection legislation, to maintain the integrity of personal information from unauthorised use. Staying ahead of data security and privacy regulations is a must for businesses in an ever-evolving climate.
This legislation includes laws and regulations which are to be adhered to. In the United Kingdom, these include the UK GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) also referred to as GDPR, the Data Protection Act 2018 also referred to as the DPA 2018 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). There are other data privacy regulations that may apply to your business depending on what products or services you provide. Data retention requirements may vary or additional security measures may be necessary. Our specialist team here at Ellis Jones will help you to understand and identify the relevant legislation and how this may apply to your business.
If you also operate in other territories, other legislation may apply, and we can advise you on strategic planning in this regard.
We can advise on additional security standards such as Cyber Essentials, Cyber Essentials Plus, ISO 27001 and how these can benefit your business. You could also implement a proven security framework such as ISMS. We can also advise you on how you track what types of data you collect and store, how it is stored and how it is managed through its life cycle.
Managing business data compliance
What services do we provide to assist you with data compliance? We will recommend the implementation of a data protection framework if you do not already have this in place. We tailor the framework to each individual business need.
Education is key when it comes to the management and governance of personal information within your business. Understanding the data protection laws and ensuring you have key policies and procedures will educate you.
Ensuring your employees are adequately trained and aware of your data protection framework will also be integral to compliance objectives. Investing in staff training will give your employees the knowledge they require to recognise any data breaches or fraudulent which is integral as the majority of data breaches that have resulted in large fines have been human error and employee mistakes. Such training will include an awareness of the applicable data protection laws, industry standards and regulations. We can provide awareness training which should be repeated annually as a minimum.
Best practice will also include training on changing passwords regularly, encryption of data sharing and data transfers and internal security measures.
Identifying and understanding the data sets is also something our data protection solicitors can assist with. This also helps ensure that you are making the right decisions around those data sets especially if you work with sensitive and special category data. We may also advise you to create a data classification system.
Other recommendations we might make are the allocation of roles to individuals in your organisation with enhanced responsibilities for overseeing data protection, including the recommendation of a data protection officer if necessary.
Data compliance laws and regulations
We have already identified that there are a number of laws and regulations which govern data protection and privacy. In the United Kingdom, the GDPR, Data Protection Act and PECR are likely to be the most applicable to your business.
However, we recommend that you seek guidance from our data protection solicitors to understand what will be applicable to your business.
The seven key principles of GDPR will help ensure data compliance and security:
- Lawfulness, Fairness and Transparency. This is a fairly widely drafted principle to catch everything. Essentially, you are required to ensure you have a legal basis for using the data and to ensure you are using it fairly.
- Purpose Limitation. This principle states that even with permission to use the data, you must ensure that you have boundaries in place to limit and protect the data. You must not use it for any other purpose than what it was intended for.
- Data Minimisation. This principle governs the use of data and states that any data collected by you should be limited to the purpose it was intended for.
- Accuracy. When you are collecting personal data, you are obligated to ensure the integrity of that data and to ensure its accuracy.
- Storage Limitation. This principle governs data retention. You are not required to use and keep personal data beyond what is necessary.
- Integrity and Confidentiality. You have a responsibility for protecting the data from not only accidental leaks but also cybersecurity incidents and threats.
- Accountability. GDPR requires businesses under certain circumstances to keep records and to be accountable. GDPR gives the ICO powers to conduct audits to ascertain if businesses are compliant with GDPR.
We recognise businesses have implemented policies to meet the basic requirements of GDPR, but many businesses have failed to embed policies and procedures which really reflect the importance of data protection and the application of GDPR, which does expose them if they are subjected to an audit by the ICO.
Business Data Compliance FAQs
Why is data compliance important?
All businesses must meet compliance standards. It very much depends on what industry and sector your business operates in, to determine whether other data protection and data privacy laws apply. Some regulatory bodies also impose their own regulations and requirements for data protection and cybersecurity.
We work with businesses to establish a core framework to ensure that this meets industry standards, data protection legislation, whilst ensuring you retain your commercial and ethical values.
Having robust data protection policies and procedures in place will instil confidence in your customers, and thus secure brand loyalty. Consumers and businesses are now increasingly aware of their legal rights and the handling of their personal data.
what challenges will you face?
Data is now integral to every business and is used in a multitude of ways within a business. This may be stored on numerous databases, servers, devices and cloud software. The more this data is dispersed, the wider the risks so it is important you have in place systems to protect the data.
Identifying and managing those risks and adhering to data protection laws will facilitate data protection compliance.
How can we help?
Many businesses have failed to embed data protection into their usual activities and have failed to undertake any risk assessments to understand where their weaknesses lie. We can assist you by reviewing your current systems and advising on the necessary steps by making recommendations for improving your data protection.
We will provide a checklist of actionable steps you need to take in the short-term, medium-term and long-term. Ultimately, continuous awareness, integration and monitoring will be key to enabling you to maintain compliance. We can offer a number of services including our various data protection solution packages, staff awareness training, a GDPR assessment, strategy planning, data audits, drafting policies and key documents.
Who enforces business data compliance?
Our overview explains the importance of data compliance and how businesses can achieve this.
The data protection legislation places a legal burden on businesses to ensure they comply with these laws and we can help with this.
The ICO has wide powers and will exercise these including the right to carry out audits without notice on businesses. As the recent Brexit and Covid-19 storms have passed, we expect to see the ICO carrying out audits to bring about and manage compliance with data protection laws.
Failure to be compliant could result in an audit by the ICO and regulatory fines. In addition, there are now more and more civil claims being brought for damages arising from data breaches, or compliance failings. This could result in a significant financial loss to your business, but also reputational damage.