How Do I Demonstrate GDPR Compliance?
August 9, 2023
At a glance
- GDPR is designed to protect the privacy and personal data of EU citizens, applicable to businesses worldwide processing EU residents’ data, including technology companies.
- Key compliance areas for technology companies under GDPR include conducting data mapping and inventory exercises, identifying lawful bases for data processing, implementing robust consent management, adopting privacy by design and default principles, handling data subject rights requests effectively, and managing third-party vendors’ compliance.
- While there is no specific GDPR certification, technology companies can demonstrate compliance through reports and certifications like ISO 27001, ISO 27701, HITRUST, and SOC 2, which show they meet GDPR requirements.
Aprio offers assistance in GDPR compliance and selecting the appropriate certifications or reports for demonstrating compliance. As the first full-service CPA firm in the U.S. to receive ANAB accreditation as an ISO 27701 certifying body, Aprio stands ready to help your organization address privacy compliance challenges.
The full story:
Have you ever wondered how technology companies ensure the safety and privacy of your personal data under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?
As an accounting partner at Aprio, headquartered in Atlanta, GA, I have worked closely with numerous technology companies in their journey toward GDPR compliance. Here are some key considerations and strategies that can help your organization navigate the complexities of GDPR.
GDPR, which came into effect in May 2018, is a European Union regulation designed to protect EU citizens’ privacy and personal data. It applies not only to businesses based in the EU but also to any organization worldwide that processes the personal data of EU residents. With their vast amounts of customer data, technology companies need to pay particularly close attention to GDPR compliance.
Key GDPR Compliance Areas for Technology Companies
Technology companies can focus on six key areas of GDPR compliance: data mapping and inventory, lawful basis for data processing, consent management, privacy by design and default, data subject rights and vendor management.
Data Mapping and Inventory
To achieve GDPR compliance, technology companies must clearly understand the personal data they process, where it is stored, and how it flows within their systems. Conduct a thorough data mapping exercise to identify all the touchpoints where personal data is collected, processed, and transferred. Maintaining an up-to-date data inventory will help you assess the risks associated with different data sets and implement appropriate security measures.
Lawful Basis for Data Processing
Under GDPR, organizations must have a lawful basis for processing personal data. Technology companies should identify the legal grounds on which they rely for data processing activities, such as contractual necessity, legitimate interests, consent, or compliance with legal obligations. Review your data processing activities and ensure they align with the identified lawful basis.
Consent is crucial in GDPR compliance, especially for technology companies that collect user data through websites, apps, or other digital platforms. Implement a robust consent management framework with clear and granular consent mechanisms, allowing individuals to provide informed consent for specific data processing activities.
Privacy by Design and Default
Adopting privacy by design and default principles is fundamental to GDPR compliance. Embed privacy considerations into the design of your technology solutions and systems from the outset. Implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure that privacy settings, data protection features, and security measures are set to the highest level by default.
Data Subject Rights
GDPR grants individuals several rights concerning their personal data, including the right to access, rectify, erase, and restrict processing. Technology companies should establish processes to handle data subject requests effectively. Ensure that your organization has mechanisms to respond to such requests within the required timeframes, allowing individuals to exercise their rights under the GDPR.
Technology companies often rely on third-party vendors for services like cloud hosting or data analytics. Conduct thorough due diligence when engaging vendors to ensure that they have appropriate security measures in place and comply with GDPR requirements.
Establish robust vendor management practices, including contractual obligations and periodic assessments, to mitigate any potential risks associated with third-party data processing.
Demonstrating Compliance with GDPR
Many technology companies play the third-party role mentioned in the Vendor Management section above. So how do they demonstrate compliance to their potential customers regarding GDRP? Is there a GDPR certification that they can obtain?
Technically, there is no such thing as a GDPR certification that a company can obtain to demonstrate that they are compliant with GDPR. However, many reports (SOC 2 Reports) and certifications (ISO 27001 / ISO 27701 /HITRUST) can help a company demonstrate that they are meeting the requirements of GDPR.
The most commonly used certification to demonstrate GDPR compliance is an ISO 27001 certification. The “gold” standard is an ISO 27001 and an ISO 27701 certification, as it combines security and privacy requirements. The ISO/IEC 27001 framework is the international information security management system (ISMS) standard.
It provides a strong foundational approach to information security management that allows companies to approach risk as an organization. ISO 27701 is the first true international certification for privacy compliance, built on ISO 27001, the recognized international standard for information security management.
A final word
Depending on your circumstances, a SOC 2 + GDPR could also address a company’s need to demonstrate GDPR compliance. A SOC 2 is based on the AICPA SOC 2 framework but has the flexibility to add additional compliance requirements and frameworks like GDPR. If you need help getting started with GDPR compliance or how to demonstrate to potential customers and partners that you are meeting GDPR, give Aprio a call. As one of only a few firms that can offer all of these reports/certifications, Aprio’s Information Assurance practice has a unique perspective on the pros and cons of each certification or report.
Related Resources/Assets/Aprio.com articles/pages
Aprio’s Advisory practice can assist you with implementing the requirements necessary to meet GDPR compliance by helping tailor your control environment to meet them.
An AI tool was used to assist in the organization, grammar and presentation of this content. Research, writing, editing and proofing were performed by humans.
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About the Author
Brett is the National Partner in Aprio’s IAS practice and a Certified CSF HITRUST Practitioner (CCSFP). He has 20+ years of focused business process and information technology control experience helping small to midsized companies protect their operations from cyber threats.