As a small business owner, ensuring compliance with privacy laws is crucial. If you have a website, it’s likely these laws apply to your business. Laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and existing state laws in California, Virginia, Connecticut, Colorado, and Utah (as well as laws in several other states that will go into effect soon) contain requirements that businesses must meet. Here are the key steps small businesses need to consider to comply with privacy laws.
Understanding the Applicable Privacy Laws:
Before diving into compliance, it’s important to understand which privacy laws apply to your business. For instance, GDPR is a well-known regulation, but there might be additional laws specific to your jurisdiction. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the principles, requirements, and obligations outlined in these laws.
Mapping and Inventory:
To comply, you’ll want to map out the personal data your business collects, processes, stores, and shares. Think of it as a data inventory. Take note of where the data comes from, why you need it, and any third parties involved.
Lawful Basis for Processing:
Next, determine the “lawful basis” for processing personal data. This might involve obtaining consent, fulfilling contractual obligations, or complying with legal requirements. The “lawful basis” is the reason you need to keep the data – for instance, to fulfill an order or communicate with a prospect that has given permission.
Transparency and Privacy Notices:
Transparency is key. Provide clear and concise privacy notices to individuals explaining how their personal data is used. Cover the lawful basis for processing, ways you will use the data, how long you keep data, and individuals’ rights regarding their data. Keep it straightforward and easy to understand.
If you rely on consent, make sure you obtain it properly. Consent should be freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous. Ideally you keep customer information in a tool that can help you record and manage consent and allow individuals to withdraw their consent easily.
Data Subject Rights:
Privacy laws grant individuals certain rights over their data. Make sure you understand these rights and have processes in place to address them. These include rights to access, challenge, erase, download, and restrict or object to processing.
Data Security Measures:
This is where privacy and security meet. You are required to implement strong security measures to prevent unauthorized access, disclosure, or destruction. Encryption, access controls, regular security assessments, and staff training are all important components.
Data Breach Notification:
Prepare for the unexpected. Establish procedures to detect and respond to data breaches promptly. Assess the risk to individuals’ rights and freedoms, and if necessary, notify the supervisory authorities and affected individuals as required by law.
Vendor and Third-Party Management:
If you work with vendors or third parties, ensure they also comply with privacy laws. Perform due diligence when selecting partners, and define data protection obligations in written agreements.
Staff Training and Awareness:
Educate your employees on privacy laws, data protection principles, and their responsibilities. Promote a culture of privacy awareness within your organization. Everyone should understand their role in safeguarding personal data.
Ongoing Compliance Monitoring:
Compliance is not a one-time task. Regularly review and update your privacy practices, policies, and procedures to keep up with evolving regulations. Stay informed about any changes to applicable laws.
Learn more about each privacy law here:
GDRP (General Data Protection Regulation – Europe)
CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act)
CPA (Colorado Privacy Act)
CDPA (Consumer Data Protection Act – Virginia)
UCPA (Utah Consumer Privacy Act)