What you need to know about embedding Privacy by Design to protect personal data

February 3, 2023 - Reading Time: 3 minutes - By Kennedy Osore

Privacy by design is a framework for personal data protection that aims to embed privacy considerations into the design and development of systems, products, and services. The approach advocates for the integration of personal data protection measures into the entire lifecycle of a product or service, from the initial design stage to its eventual deployment. This approach helps ensure that data privacy is not an afterthought but a core consideration throughout the development process.

Organisations are collecting, storing, and using personal data more than ever through a host of fast-evolving technologies, creating new challenges in managing personal data. In the context of Kenya’s data protection law, Privacy by Design is a key requirement that organisations operating in Kenya must adhere to when collecting, processing, and storing personal data. This includes having proper organisational and technical safeguards to guarantee that data processing complies with data protection principles. Getting it wrong can be costly. The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) can levy a penalty of up to five million shillings for any non-compliance with the requirements of the law.

Businesses must think through and put controls and safeguards in place to protect customer privacy rights and their organisations to adhere to strict requirements in today’s complex environment. However, this is not about checking boxes; it is about establishing a new culture and changing one’s perspective so that privacy is seen as the central concern when developing any new technology, system, or procedure.

There are several steps that organisations can take to implement privacy by design in their processes, systems, products, and services.

Conduct Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs)

DPIAs are evaluations of the potential impact of a new service, process, or product on personal data. By conducting DPIAs, organisations can identify privacy risks associated with developing and deploying a product or service and develop strategies to mitigate those risks.

Define Personal Data Requirements

Organisations should define privacy requirements for their systems, products, and services before development begins. This includes identifying which data elements need to be collected, how that data will be stored and processed, and who will have access to it.

Adopt Privacy-Enhancing Technologies

Organisations can implement privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) to enhance personal data protection. PETs include encryption, anonymisation, pseudonymisation, and data minimisation, which can reduce the amount of personal data collected, processed, and stored.

Implement Privacy Policies and Procedures

Organisations should establish clear policies and procedures for collecting, storing, using and disseminating personal data. These policies should be well-communicated to all stakeholders and be easily accessible to users.

Train Employees

Organisations should invest in the training of employees in personal data protection and security best practices. This includes providing training on data privacy policies, procedures, and the use of PETs.

Foster a Culture of Privacy

Organisations should cultivate a culture of data privacy within the organisation, where employees understand the importance of privacy and are committed to protecting personal data. This can be achieved through regular communications, privacy awareness training, and employee engagement activities.

Incorporate Privacy into Contracts

Organisations should incorporate data privacy requirements into contracts with third-party vendors and service providers to ensure that they are following the same data privacy practices as the organisation.

Monitor and Evaluate

Organisations should regularly monitor and evaluate their privacy policies and practices to ensure they are effective and in compliance with data protection laws.

In conclusion, privacy by design is a holistic approach to privacy protection that embeds privacy considerations into all stages of developing and deploying systems, products, and services. By following the steps outlined above, organizations can ensure that privacy is not just a concern for the end user but a core consideration throughout the development process. Implementing privacy by design helps to build user trust, protect personal data and mitigate privacy risks. Companies that value privacy from the outset will be better able to adapt to the changing legislative requirements for data protection and consumer demands for personal data protection.

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