With only a week before the implementation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and as organizations run the last leg of their compliance journey, it is important to revisit one of the GDPR’s overarching goals — to empower users.
The GDPR comes at a time when data processing has become fast and automatic. Data is passed from point to point, blurring divisions between processes as well as geographic locations. Even the nature and types of data collected have transformed. Data collection has gone beyond usernames, contact information, and preferences. Now, even user activity on platforms like social media has become a source of relevant and valuable information.
Organizations keep up and make the most of these changes. However, these very advancements come at a price for data subjects, i.e., customers and users: Their control over their data and awareness of how it is used suffer. From an enterprise standpoint, this translates to difficulties in determining what information users and customers must know about data processing, and when permission is required before further use of data. These are details data protection regulations like the GDPR re-establish, especially with the rise of big data analytics and data breaches.
Many of the rules and guidelines of the GDPR can be seen as steps towards user empowerment, as specifically seen in the additional rights provided for data subjects. Most of these rights can be categorized as granting users more control over their data.
With these rights in place, user consent becomes an important factor for data processing to take place or even to continue, given that users also have the right to withdraw consent. Explicit consent should be obtained by the organization functioning as a data controller if it is the legal basis for data processing.
Another right the GDPR grants users is the right to correct or rectify any information they have previously allowed to be collected, through the “right to rectification.” Related to this, data subjects also are granted the “right to erasure” or “right to be forgotten,” which allows users to ask a data controller to delete or erase their personal information from the data controller’s database without undue delay.
Data subjects can also receive and transmit, in a common and machine-readable format, any collected personal data about themselves to another company, through the “right to data portability” provision of the GDPR.
The rights of users can also be grouped together in terms of improving transparency. Under the GDPR, even before data processing takes place, transparency already plays an important role in obtaining user consent. Organizations must make use of “concise, transparent, intelligible, and easily accessible” forms when asking users to agree or disagree to privacy terms and conditions or data collection and processing.
Organizations working as data controllers must also provide users with information on the purpose or legal grounds for data processing, the categories of personal data collected, possible recipients of the collected data, and the period during which the collected data will be stored.
In case there is a data breach, affected users must have transparency into the details of the incident. As data breach notification is an important facet under the GDPR, organizations must inform affected users to enable them to take necessary precautions against the consequences of a major breach.
For users, allowing organizations to access their personal information had, at times, been only as simple as ticking a checkbox. However, with the evolution of technology and data collection methods, this may no longer be enough. The GDPR recognizes other means for users to indicate consent, such as swiping motions. Likewise, organizations are capable of finding innovative ways to grant users and customers much-needed clarity and knowledge with regard to where data goes and how it is used.
Transparency and control are the tools the GDPR grants users for them to take better rein over the data that they are sharing. Data subjects, with the help of the GDPR, are given more choices regarding how their information is collected, processed, and used. Granting users more rights also means they share in the responsibility of knowing and protecting their data, making them partners of the very organizations with whom they have entrusted their data.
Once the GDPR is enforced, organizations are obliged to abide by its guidelines. Data controllers and processors, after all, are in the very position to make these rights for users possible. Organizations can take a proactive and open approach to the changes GDPR requires for compliance. The approach to compliance in terms of the additional user rights can be seen as a reflection of an organization’s sincerity to provide service that is fair, legitimate, and secure. Allowing customers and users to make well-informed decisions on their privacy and personal data improves their satisfaction and loyalty in the long run. Therefore, examining how the GDPR was crafted to achieve user empowerment gives organizations clearer insight into the rationale for the regulation in tandem with implementing measures for compliance.
Underlying the changes the GDPR brings into the relationship between organizations and users is the necessity of better and stronger cybersecurity. GDPR’s “state-of-the-art cybersecurity” and “privacy by design and default” facets acknowledge the role of stronger and more innovative cybersecurity in protecting data subjects; solutions and processes must contend with the evolving world of threats. Recent data breaches have affected enterprise and customer relations. The GDPR can strengthen the trust between organizations and its users or customers — and this can be better facilitated with stronger and adept cybersecurity.
As we provide cybersecurity solutions to help our customers protect their data and comply with the GDPR, we also recognize our own GDPR-related responsibilities. To know more about how Trend Micro has been preparing for the GDPR, watch our video case study.
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