GDPR compliance framework for business applications: how to get it right

Eddie Heijblom

In today's digital world, where personal data is the new gold, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) stands as a crucial framework. This regulation, implemented by the European Union, aims to protect personal data and ensure privacy. For businesses developing applications, understanding and adhering to GDPR is not just a legal necessity but also a matter of trust and reputation.

Understanding GDPR: The Basics

At its core, GDPR is about regulating how companies collect, use, and store personal data, especially sensitive information like dates of birth. It mandates that companies justify the need for such data and collect it ethically. This applies to anyone processing personal data anywhere in the world, “so long as they target or collect data related to people in the EU”, making GDPR compliance a universal requirement.

Building GDPR-Compliant Business Applications

When developing business applications, there are several privacy considerations to keep in mind. Here's your recipe for a GDPR-compliant app:

Data Sensitivity and Access Controls

Different data types have varying sensitivity levels. For example, it's essential to assess the necessity of collecting data like home address, medical status, or passport numbers. Implementing strict access controls based on an individual's role within the organization is crucial. Also, employ measures like two-factor authentication and data encryption for heightened security.

Example: Think of a hospital app where only doctors can access patient health records, and the receptionist can only see contact details.

Privacy Impact Assessments

Every new application or functionality must undergo a privacy impact assessment. This helps in determining who can access the data and what they're allowed to see, ensuring that only necessary data is collected and accessed.

Example: Adding a chat feature? Check if it’s okay to store those conversations and who can read them.

Data Storage and Security

Be aware of where your data is stored. Pay attention to data storage locations, backup protocols, and the reliability of data suppliers.

Example: If you’re storing customer addresses, make sure they’re on servers in the right country and backed up safely.

Transparency and Security Measures

Ensure transparency in your security development process and have clear guidelines. Also, have a system in place for data removal requests to comply with GDPR's 'right to be forgotten'.

Example: If a user wants to delete their account, make sure you have a simple process for them to do so and that their data is completely removed from your system.

Understanding Privacy Impact Assessments

At the heart of a GDPR compliance framework for business applications is the crucial role of privacy impact assessments (PIAs). Think of PIAs as your navigational tools, helping you chart a course through the complexities of data protection. At Triggre, we've tailored two distinct types of assessments — for small businesses and large organizations. This ensures that businesses of all sizes have access to a framework that fits their unique needs.

Why Conduct Privacy Impact Assessments?

Identifying Information Requirements: When you're building or updating an application, a PIA acts like a detective. It helps you ask the right questions, such as what information is essential for your application to function and why.

Understanding Access and Permissions: Like a careful planner, a PIA helps you map out who in your organization should have access to specific types of data. This step is crucial in minimizing the risk of data breaches and ensuring that only relevant stakeholders interact with sensitive information.

PIAs are a process

Conducting a PIA isn’t a one-off task – it's an ongoing journey. You should revisit your PIA regularly, ideally every couple of years, or whenever there's a significant change in legislation or your application. This is like a regular health check for your app, ensuring it stays compliant and secure over time. Changes in the legal landscape or new functionalities in your application might call for a fresh look at how you handle data.

The Triggre Approach to PIAs

At Triggre, we recommend starting with a PIA for every new functionality you add to your application. This ensures that with each step of development, you're making informed, GDPR-compliant decisions. Whether you're a small startup or a large enterprise, understanding and implementing effective PIAs is an integral part of your data protection strategy.

By integrating privacy impact assessments into your regular business processes, you're not just complying with legal requirements; you're also building trust with your users and laying a strong foundation for data security within your organization.

Choosing the Right Tool for Your Application

Selecting a trustworthy tool for application development is vital for adhering to GDPR compliance. Here are the essential aspects to keep in mind:

Understanding Data Storage Locations: It's essential to know where your data will be physically stored by the tool. Different locations have different data protection laws, and for GDPR compliance, you need to ensure these laws align with your requirements. Ask the tool provider about the location of their data storage facilities and ensure they adhere to the necessary legal standards.

Assessing Backup Procedures: Backups are a critical part of data security. You need to understand how the tool manages data backups – how often they occur, where they are stored, and how they secure data during this process. Reliable backup processes are crucial for protecting against data loss and maintaining the integrity of your data, in line with GDPR requirements.

Inquiring About Third-Party Data Sharing: It's also important to find out if and how the tool shares data with third parties. Ask for a list of any other companies or suppliers that might have access to your data. Knowing who else is handling your data and ensuring they comply with GDPR is an essential part of maintaining overall data security.

Feeling Secure with Triggre

Wondering how Triggre keeps you in the safe zone with GDPR? Let's break it down:

Regional Server Hosting: We host our servers in the EU and the US to comply with data residency requirements.

Triggre is a cloud-based service that runs completely on Microsoft Azure, hosted in the Microsoft Western-Europe and Central United States data centers. Customers are assigned to a data center automatically, depending on their location. The data centers in which Triggre is hosted are amongst the best compliant in the world. Microsoft Azure adheres to more than 100 compliance certifications, such as ISO 27001, SOC 1 and SOC 2; over 50 regulations specific to global regions and countries, such as the US, the European Union, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom; and more than 35 compliance offerings specific to industries like health, government, finance, education, manufacturing, and media. For a complete list of certifications, please check the Microsoft Azure Compliance website.

Secure Login Systems: We provide built-in authentication. It's like having a personal security guard for your information.  

Roles and Permissions Matrix: Access to information is restricted based on user roles within the organization. Think of this like a VIP list for your data.  

Learn more about Triggre’s built-in security.

In a nutshell

GDPR compliance is an ongoing process that requires continuous vigilance and adaptation. By considering the points mentioned above, businesses can ensure they not only comply with legal requirements but also maintain the trust of their customers and users. Remember, in the digital age, data privacy isn't just a compliance issue; it's a cornerstone of your business's integrity and success.

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