Data Protection Impact Assessment’s Complete Explanation

Do you want to minimize data protection risks? Then you must consider adding the Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) to your important cybersecurity procedures list. This assessment significantly minimizes the chances of personal or organizational data exposure by identifying and analyzing actions that might affect data protection.

According to article 35 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Data Protection Impact Assessment is extremely important for company tasks related to data protection. Every project that is processing personal data should be taking advantage of DPIA.

Let's see how!

A Detailed Look at DPIA

There are various projects in which individual personal data is highly at risk of exposure. Remember that DPIA is a precise and concise process of securing data, which implies that businesses need to take advantage of screening checklists.

Image describing factors that make DPIA necessary

Whenever an organization utilizes an individual's data, that specific data becomes exposed to various risks. These risks are closely related to the hacking and misuse of that personal information, which leads to criminal activities that harm the individual. Unfortunately, personal data is often used for unknown purposes. At this stage, the DPIA plays a vital role in identifying breaches associated with personal individual data misuse and minimizing risks as much as possible. DPIA is particularly designed for negating the risk of data breaches and ensuring that everything is compliant with GDPR.

DPIA is associated with particular projects and does not apply to an organization as a whole. You will need to check specific organizational functions to reduce the risk of data breaches for particular projects.

Benefits of Conducting DPIA

As discussed earlier, DPIA helps organizations conduct particular projects safely and securely. DPIA is beneficial for companies concerned about a project’s security and for those that wish to improve the confidence of the project’s personnel by preventing data privacy breaches.

Let's look at some of DPIA’s benefits in detail:

The best part about DPIA is that it is the most cost-efficient and inexpensive protection solution for individual data privacy.

How can someone know if they need DPIA?

First DPIA is only necessary in cases where there is a high risk of data protection exposure of an individual’s personal information. Moreover, when it comes to protecting and securing the rights and freedoms of individuals, technology like DPIA is required. Focusing on DPIA allows an organization or particular project within an organization to be compliant with data protection laws.

Let's look at some cases where GDPR rules and regulations require the use of DPIA, specifically when there are many risks associated with data processing:

  • The detailed and systematic monitoring of everything that is publically available. This includes all personal information that is shared publicly.
  • The detailed evaluation of all personal aspects that affect the overall reputation of a person when the data is misused or at risk of being misused.

Article 29 Working Party of the GDPR specifies the following criteria for finding out when DPIA is applicable:

1. Projects related to evaluation and scoring

DPIA is applicable when projects are related to evaluation or scoring and require the collection of personal data related to work, economic situation, interest, behavior, location, and health. An example of such data collection includes a bank that handles various types of personal information during the process of automatic decision-making, especially when it comes to solving legal matters that affect one person or many individuals simultaneously. At this stage, the use of DPIA prevents individuals from discrimination and solves multiple problems that are related to the ineligibility of an individual based on specific criteria.

2. Systematic monitoring of an individual

The need for DPIA also arises whenever the systematic monitoring of a particular person occurs. In this type of monitoring, personal data collection is required and DPIA plays its role by making it impossible for others to use the data fraudulently. It also guides how this data is used and whether or not the individual is aware of who is collecting their data and how it will be used.

3. Criteria of individuals' data protection

Article 9 of the GDPR clearly defines that DPIA is mandatory whenever handling sensitive data, such as a individual's political opinion. Otherwise, it may lead to various legal issues. It is worth mentioning that there are multiple forms of personal data that DPIA often protects. For example, financial data, location data, communication data, electronic data, and all other forms of legal data and data related to personal opinion are all types of data that are normally covered by DPIA.

4. Large scale data processing

Image Source: Summary of data protection project assessment cycle

According to GDPR, the data of a single project that needs to be processed on a large scale must use DPIA. Various factors determine whether or not data is required to be processed on a large scale. Let's have a look at some of the factors.

  • First, it is important to verify how many data subjects are considered relevant. This could include a particular number of individuals, a collective or population information that will participate in a particular project.
  • The length of the project can also be determined from the volume of data. If there is no clear evidence or information about the volume of data, then it can be calculated from the range of data items that are going to be processed within the project.
  • Another method used to learn if a project is considered large scale is determining the permanence or duration of the project.
  • The latest technique that shows the processing duration and the details of a data processing activity is learning about the geographical extent of a particular activity that will be conducted in a project.

5. The imbalance between the data controller and a data subject

Whenever an imbalance occurs between the data controller and the data subject, the GDPR strictly advises utilizing DPIA for the processing of data in such cases to minimize chances for a dispute. This type of issue arises when an individual refuses to provide his/her personal information or does not show his/her consent to the processing of their data. Most commonly, it directly applies to the vulnerable portions of society, such as people who are not aware of how their data will be processed and the importance of limiting access to their personal information. For example, employees working at a particular organization may feel reluctant to provide their data to any other organization or entity. Similarly, the rule of consent cannot be applied to children, as they are too young to know anything about the processing of their data.

6. Data whose exposure has social consequences

Integration techniques and technology utilization are so prevalent that sometimes individuals feel forced to willingly hand over their personal information. This can involve innovative technology like face recognition and fingerprints instead of traditional passwords that are often used to secure a device. In articles 91 and 89 of the GDPR, personal data collection and usage can be combined with the latest technology. However, many people worry about the social consequences that they may face if their personal data is exposed. It is not a secret that the exposure of personal information can cause trouble for an individual’s privacy and could significantly impac their daily lives. This type of data processing requires DPIA.

In all the above-mentioned cases, DPIA is necessary. However, if the collected data is at a lower risk of information exposure, the data may not need to be subject to DPIA. Thus, evaluate your data procedures carefully to establish the GDPR compliance succsefully and keep your company's prestige intact!

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