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Your Complete Guide to Privacy Compliance: Navigating Privacy Regulations

Posted December 14, 2020

Back in May 2017, the Economist made a bold statement: personal, private data is more valuable than oil. In the three years since they published the article, the value of private data has only appreciated. The data in question refers to both declared data, which people disclose in the course of their online activities, and sensitive personal information that industries like finance, healthcare, and education gather in the course of normal business. With so much value built up around personal data, data security and privacy compliance have become an essential function for any company that catalogs their clients’ personal information.

Regarding digital data, more than 3,800 data breaches happened in the first half of 2019 alone, resulting in an average cost of $8.19 million per breach. In terms of private data aggregated for distinct business purposes, the average company has more than 500,000 customer or patient files, with 53% of those companies leaving a significant portion of their files left unprotected.

Fortunately, the regulatory landscape has evolved in response to privacy compliance concerns. We’re going to examine the topic of privacy, specifically around regulatory compliance and what your company can do to build a strong privacy program.

What is Privacy Compliance?

Before diving into individual privacy compliance regulations, it’s beneficial to understand what we mean by privacy compliance.

The field of privacy compliance consists of all the practices and policies that a company employs to stay in alignment with existing regulations and to anticipate coming regulations or shifts in the industry’s temperament.

Privacy compliance is not a simple subject to interpret or implement, however, especially if your company is multinational. Many of the United States’ business partners have their own privacy regulations that must be adhered to on top of legislative concerns at home. A well-crafted privacy compliance program must take into account a wide range of moving pieces, determining which are germane to the situation at hand.

Why Does Privacy Compliance Matter?

In the course of normal business operations, companies gather massive amounts of data from consumers. According to Microsoft, people generate a whopping 2.5 quintillion bytes of personal data every single day. That data ranges from key demographic information, to financial data, to browsing habits. While much of that data is used to make the world a safer and more productive place, it can also be used with bad intent should it fall into the wrong hands. An increasing chorus of voices is calling for data to be considered a basic human. But until that viewpoint becomes globally recognized, it’s up to companies to protect sensitive, private data.

Privacy Compliance Best Practices

In order to implement an efficient privacy compliance program there are a few basic practices that your company can put into place in order to build a solid foundation. Begin by understanding which regulations are applicable to your specific industry. Regulations differ by country; portions of your enterprise might be subject to a concert of concurrent regulations. Before you begin planning, you must understand what you’re planning for.

In order for your privacy compliance program to be successful, you must foster an environment that focuses on compliance. To do that, you must adequately communicate regulations to your frontline employees; they must feel enfranchised and empowered to keep clients’ information safe. You must build a culture that stresses ownership over customer privacy.

It is also important to set down a detailed process both internally and externally. In-house, it pays to maintain detailed documentation standards that clearly define what data your agency retains, why they retain it, and the method in which it is retained. You must also stress transparency to the public as well. Make sure your clients understand what information you gather and why.

The final step is to assess and test your methods in order to continuously refine and improve your privacy compliance program.

Different Regulations and Requirements

Understanding the range of regulations and requirements provides an essential foundation for your entire privacy compliance program. Below is a cross section of worldwide data security regulations.


GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, originated in the European Union. GDPR is designed to give citizens of the EU a greater level of control over their own personal information. GDPR places the burden of protecting sensitive client information on the business, and imposes penalties if sufficient security measures aren’t put into place.


CCPA stands for the “California Consumer Privacy Act.” This US-based law gives consumers much broader power over their personal data. The law stipulates that consumers have a right to know precisely what information companies collect and how they intend to use it. Additionally, consumers have the right to request a company to delete their personal information, and they are given an option up front to opt out of having data collected in the first place.


PIPEDA stands for the “Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.” PIPEDA serves as the Canadian counterpart to the EU’s GDPR. PIPEDA protects Canadian consumers by giving them access to personal information gathered about them and the ability to challenge its accuracy upon review.


The IAPP, or International Association of Privacy Professionals, is a global non-profit organization whose goal is to discuss emerging trends and practices in privacy compliance, while educating the public about emerging risks. With twenty years of experience in the privacy compliance space, the IAPP positions itself as an expert resource in the field.


DSAR, or Data Subject Access Request, is not a regulation itself, but rather a tool that larger regulations like CCPA or GDPR give to consumers. A DSAR is a consumer’s formal request to access their stored data. A DSAR gives them access to the information itself, as well as how the company obtained it, and the legal basis for collecting it in the first place.


A DPO is a new C-level role that deals specifically with customers’ data protection. The acronym stands for Data Protection officer. A VDPO is a virtual data protection officer. The protection officer is tasked with building a company’s privacy compliance program and making sure it adheres to all necessary regulations. While a DPO is likely to know your specific country’s regulatory compliance standards, a VDPO is a professional that knows compliance on a global scale and understands the legal and regulatory nuances. VDPO professionals usually work by contract, and can be a great as-needed solution for small to medium-sized businesses looking to bolster their compliance and large businesses that just can’t find the right talent.

How GreyCastle Security Can Help Your Organization Build a Strong Privacy Program

Between all the different international regulations and the complexity of your business, building a privacy compliance program can be a difficult task. Greycastle Security offers a full suite of sustainable privacy compliance services including risk and compliance assessment, privacy operations and execution, privacy program design, and VCISO/ DPO services.

GreyCastle Security does not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach; we believe in tailoring the perfect fitting product to the size of your company and its specific needs. Through individual consultation, we can help your company navigate global regulatory compliance. Please contact GreyCastle Security to get help building your privacy compliance program today.


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