Navigating Data Protection Compliance: Six Lessons Learned and Best Practices
Updated: Sep 8
The ICO recently released a ‘lessons learned’ report relating to UK organisations’ data protection missteps in the last 3 months. It revealed that nine organisations – a mix of public and third-sector entities – were issued with reprimands for their violations of UK data protection laws. This ICO report provides a stark reminder of the importance of data protection and the necessity of adhering to proper data handling practices.
Personal data is sometimes inadvertently disclosed or processed unlawfully within organisations. We want to explore these points and provide you with guidance to ensure you and your organisation are continuously monitoring your data protection practices in order to remain compliant.
1. Define purpose and transparency in data processing
When processing personal data, you must be able to determine the purpose around the processing, whilst ensuring this purpose is detailed within your privacy notice. This ensures that the data subjects are aware of how you will process their data.
2. Prevent unlawful data disclosure
Ensuring staff members are aware of policies and procedures set by the organisation. This may include staff members regularly reviewing the policies and procedures to ensure that they are aware of any updates/amendments made.
It can often be tricky for staff to know what their obligations are. Therefore, it is best practice to ensure you have detailed processes to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of their obligations when processing personal data. This can be included within your policies and procedures which must be accessible to all stakeholders.
3. Ensure swift and effective data breach management
Your staff must be able to identify and know how to report a personal data breach using your internal data breach process. You may wish to ensure that all staff are provided with regular reminders and training about data breaches and implications if a breach is not reported or dealt with properly. Where a breach has occurred, it is critical that this is investigated as soon as possible to help mitigate any risks posed to the affected data subjects. Once you have followed your own internal process, you will then be able to identify whether the breach requires reporting to the ICO.
4. Implement robust technical and organisational measures
Where you process personal data within your organisations, you will need to regularly review the technical and organisational measures that you have in place. This will enable you to ensure the security of the personal data that you are processing and identify whether there are any necessary implementations/changes required.
5. Ensure adherence to information request timeframes
A data subject can exercise their rights by asking an organisation for a copy of their personal information. Organisations have one calendar month to respond, which can be increased by up to an additional two months should the request be deemed complex.
Where a request is received, you need to be mindful of the timeframe, accounting for potential delays such as annual leave and other commitments, to ensure efficient retrieval and compilation of relevant data.
6. Implement a data protection by design and default approach
Where you wish to implement any changes or new systems within your organisation, it is best practice to consider recording the development and implementation of any of the proposed systems. This will allow you to ensure your compliance prior to the implementation of the new system and process and avoid any unlawful processing of personal data.
Should you identify any changes that need to be made or where you wish to create a new process or use a new system to process personal data, you will need to explore measures that will ensure that they are appropriate for you.
The ICO's 'lessons learned' report serves as a valuable guidepost for organisations aiming to fortify their data protection practices. By learning from the experiences of others, you can proactively enhance your approach to data handling and ensure that your organisation remains compliant and trustworthy.
Our dedicated team of experts is here to provide guidance and support, helping you navigate the process and consolidate your data protection efforts.