GDPR: Understanding Data Privacy by Design

June 28, 2018

Privacy is, of course, a serious concern among modern internet users. An estimated 86% have attempted to conceal their online activity from advertisers, cybercriminals, government agencies and other data-hungry parties.

Unfortunately, many of these individuals have taken such action in response to perceived passivity on the part of the organizations collecting information via the web. Almost 70 percent of users do not trust private and public entities to manage their information responsibly. In response, one 2018 survey found that 87 percent of global organizations are investing in cybersecurity to build trust with their audiences.

Although promising, this state of affairs is challenging for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and other business leaders whose operations run on big data. To allay the concerns of privacy-conscious consumers, stay ahead of regulatory changes and find new efficiencies for their businesses, many leaders are embracing a philosophy called privacy by design.

Addressing privacy from the ground up

Generally speaking, privacy by design means that privacy for users must be the new technical and operational standard for all businesses. It must be the cornerstone of every technological development, data network or UX design as well as every operation, process or protocol that handles or interacts with personally identifiable data.

Privacy by design has gained ground in recent years due, in part, to the public roll-out of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which requires businesses serving EU citizens to develop its IT infrastructure with user privacy in mind.

But what exactly does that entail? Businesses looking to comply with GDPR must adhere to seven foundational principles:

  • Proactive and preventive defenses: Organizations should construct systems in such a way that they prevent data loss, protecting both the user and the business.
  • Default privacy protections: Systems and related business processes should automatically secure data without action from users.  This should be the baseline and not something that a user needs to opt-in to.
  • Embedded security features: Systems should rely upon fully integrated data security components, not simple add-ons.  These capabilities need to be core to the foundation, not an afterthought.
  • Unencumbered system usage: Systems should include user privacy features that do not interfere with core product functionality.
  • End-to-end security: Systems should retain and secure information at all times from the beginning of a customer relationship or interaction all the way through their lifecycle.
  • Transparent operations: Systems should be subject to independent evaluation and verification to ensure performance.
  • User-centric interfaces: Systems should leverage easy-to-use interfaces that inform users of active privacy protections. This means enabling users to actually understand the privacy protections that are in place.

CISOs who manage to craft and deploy solutions that comply with these standards are more likely to gain user trust than leaders and businesses who continue to try and adjust for specific one-off situations.

Understanding the benefits of privacy by design

Committing to privacy by design allows companies to likely see higher data submission volumes, which leads to more information the company has on hand and more importantly, higher levels of trust from users. Product teams can use that information to fine-tune their offerings, and human resources departments gain access to larger pools of potential talent.

Businesses can and should integrate the philosophy of privacy by design into their business, but the execution can be simplified by working with a solution that facilitates opportunities to meet the fundamental principles. Intelligent platforms that are created with privacy in mind create less risk, easing data management activities and making it possible for CISOs to effectively protect large quantities of information.  Together, these capabilities can facilitate growth, whether that is in traditional business lines or for companies looking to expand beyond their core businesses.

In the end, investing and committing to privacy by design as a core tenant of your business provides benefits that outweigh the work that comes with implementing it. CISOs would be wise to embrace the philosophy and meet the needs of modern consumers. Evident helps companies of all sizes do just this through an identity verification solution created with user privacy in mind, one that removes data storage and liability from the equation entirely.

Contact us to learn more or start running verifications in minutes by signing up for our self-service capability.

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David Thomas

David Thomas, CEO at Evident, is an accomplished cybersecurity entrepreneur. He has a history of introducing innovative technologies, establishing them in the market, and driving growth – with each early-stage company emerging as the market leader.

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