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Data Processing Agreement (DPA): Everything You Need to Know

Osman Husain 2/29/24 6:51 PM

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Data privacy is crucial. This is true regardless of the industry, but it’s especially important for businesses that capture, analyze, and maintain their own user databases.

Professional third-party data privacy experts provide their partners with comprehensive data processing agreements (DPAs). DPAs ensure that data management is above board, and it complements your business goals with actionable analytics.

So, what is a data processing agreement, and why is this contract between you and your data processor so important?


What is a Data Processing Agreement?

A data processing agreement is a legal contract that defines rights, obligations, and actions between a data controller (the entity that owns the data) and a data processor (the entity that processes the data on behalf of the controller).

DPAs outline what both parties can and can’t do in terms of data management. This is particularly important so your company abides by data protection laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union or similar state laws in the United States.


Why is a Data Processing Agreement Important?

Guidelines for data processing agreements help businesses and their data processors understand individual roles, define data security protocols, and highlight analytics-gathering practices, among other things.

A comprehensive DPA will:

  • Detail data processing activities
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities
  • Provide data security assurance
  • Ensure legal compliance for your business
  • Establish trust and credibility


Businesses that don’t secure a comprehensive data processing agreement might:

  • Face legal and financial penalties
  • Have data breaches and security issues
  • See operational inefficiencies
  • Find market expansion difficult
  • Lose trust and credibility


Data processing agreements are common practice when you deal with reliable data processors. However, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the common elements described below.


Common Elements of Data Processing Agreements

There is no one-size-fits-all data processing solution for every business because no two businesses have the same data privacy concerns or data analytics goals.

Here are some common elements you’ll find in most DPAs:


  • Data processing details: The nature, purpose, duration, type, and scope of data processed.
  • Data security measures: Detailed security measures the processor must implement.
  • Subprocessing permissions: Conditions under which and how the processor may engage subprocessors.
  • Rights and obligations: Clearly-defined rights of data subjects (like access and deletion) and obligations of both parties.
  • Data breach protocols: Procedures that notify you of data breaches with timelines and responsibilities.
  • Data audit rights: Rights of the data controller to audit the data processor's compliance.
  • Termination terms: How data is handled upon termination of the agreement.


This list is by no means exhaustive. Your DPA will be tailored to your specific needs, but look for these common elements before you sign the contract.


Find a Reliable Data Privacy Partner for DPA Security

The digital landscape is one that adapts to user needs, but data privacy will always remain a top priority. That’s why progressive businesses and the data processing partners that empower them continue to sharpen their DPAs.

A robust data processing agreement is, in most cases, not just a legal formality. It's a critical tool that safeguards the sensitive information of your business and your customers.

Reliable data processing agreements—like the ones employed by Enzuzo’s data privacy experts—make it easy for you to focus on big-picture planning when you know your data is safe and your partners are trustworthy.

This kind of trust is invaluable because data protection can define the success of your enterprise.  


Osman Husain

Osman is the content lead at Enzuzo. He has a background in data privacy management via a two-year role at ExpressVPN and extensive freelance work with cybersecurity and blockchain companies. Osman also holds an MBA from the Toronto Metropolitan University.