Data Privacy Hub

7 Steps Towards a Data Privacy Rights Program

Batja Huisman
Batja Huisman
Apr 26, 2022
min read

The relationship between companies and data privacy practices can be a bit complicated. There are many processes, involved stakeholders, and risks to consider. These puzzle pieces must all come together to form one coherent flow, indicating the need for a detailed plan.

7 Steps Towards a Data Privacy Rights Program

When companies do not create a comprehensive privacy program or workflow that covers the handling of fundamental rights like access and deletion, they risk damaging user trust along with facing fines and other legal repercussions. A recent survey shows that more than half of US social media users will ignore ads if the company behind them doesn’t protect their data privacy. 

Building and implementing a data privacy strategy will simplify dealing with requests from data subjects while ensuring that requests are adequately handled. Once you have identified your privacy needs and legal obligations as an organization, <hl>here are seven steps to help you build a successful data privacy rights program.<hl>

Workflow Stages and Needs

Step 1: Training

This stage is internal and focuses on raising awareness among stakeholders across the organization. Because so many teams and roles are exposed to data privacy requests and private information in general, companies must ensure that multiple departments beyond Legal and Compliance understand what data privacy is all about, how important it is to take it seriously, and how they can help.

Companies should create privacy plans for each department tailored to the employees’ level of expertise and required involvement. Multiple teams are in charge of forming such strategies, including:

  • Learning and Development teams to build training sessions.
  • Legal teams to guide and instruct the the teams.
  • Content pros to offer support for documentation needs.
  • Compliance advisors to help guide all.

The result should include:

  • Training sessions.
  • Relevant materials that are available and regularly updated.
  • Periodic tests to ensure that the message was successfully delivered.  

Step 2: Policies and Guidelines

This customer-facing step includes everything participants outside the business need to know about its data privacy stance. The process consists of creating a clear privacy policy, any request forms and guidelines customers might need, and other relevant materials. 

Companies should communicate their data privacy values and guidelines in a transparent and creative manner to customers to demonstrate their approach to data privacy. When it comes to data request forms and internal templates, this is also a matter of convenience and customer service. In addition to content professionals, the step involves Legal and Compliance teams and Customer Support representatives to make sure things are handled from a legal and compliance perspective, as well as a customer experience point of view.  

Step 3: Take inventory with Data Mapping

This is a crucial step. Companies need full control over their data management capabilities to complete data subject requests. Today’s data volumes grow exponentially, and organizations find it hard to keep track of the abundance of databases and servers. As a result, when users submit a request for access or deletion, multiple teams find themselves chasing after data bits and hoping they’ve managed to locate all relevant information to avoid legal repercussions. 

That's why companies need strong data mapping capabilities, to begin with, an effort that involves both IT and R&D departments. The goal is to build a data-oriented structure using innovative data mapping technology. 

Step 4: Design 

It’s not enough to manage data after it is gathered and processed by the company. Privacy-by-design principles help companies ensure that when users put their product or service to use, they encounter an experience that respects boundaries and keeps private information secure.  

For this part of the process, Product Managers and UX experts with a background in data privacy (which may have been acquired during the training stage) work to build a more private and respectful product. This includes only asking for relevant data, offering explanations regarding the usage of said data, giving users an easy path towards withdrawal, and more. 

Step 5: Request Management 

After establishing the foundation for subject request submission, companies need a system that can handle the potential flood of requests coming from users. If the data mapping step was performed successfully, combining it with this step should offer sufficient tools for managing requests as part of the data privacy program. 

Companies need an organized portal that collects all data requests and offers information regarding their status, time for completion, appropriate steps, and more. The dashboard is designed in correlation with the company’s legal and compliance guidelines, which requires the involvement of these teams. Customer Support representatives work closely with the dashboard and communicate any delays or feedback to users. 

Step 6: Implementation 

At this point, companies should have the needed information to handle the request on a practical note, which is what this step is all about. IT teams are in charge of collecting and deleting data as requested based on the company’s guidelines and the information presented on the dashboard. 

This step is mainly technical, but communicating it to other teams and staying in touch with Customer Service representatives is crucial. 

Step 7: Completion and Documentation 

For data audit purposes and future requests, it’s essential to document the process thoroughly. You might say that this step takes place alongside all others. The results are communicated to the user, letting them know that their data was deleted and offering any necessary explanation regarding the impact it might have on their future interaction with the product. 

This step involves Compliance teams and Customer Support representatives, as well as specific stakeholders in charge of informing all other teams that took part in the workflow. 

Worth the effort

It’s easy to see that the data privacy program is an all-hands-on-deck effort. Companies can adjust the workflow to fit their specific needs and nature, but these basic steps should offer the needed foundation. With a detailed, structured process backed by the right technology tools, companies minimize the risk of skipping necessary parts and paying the price in brand reputation damage and legal fines. 

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