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Factors To Consider When Handling Data Electronically

Paige Harris Mar 9, 2022 8:00:00 AM

The internet has become an integral part of everyday life. Every business seems to be moving its operations online, where customers have to provide personal information before accessing any goods or services.

Since customers' details are private and sensitive, businesses need to handle them carefully. Any misuse can lead to prosecution. Let’s look at the factors you need to consider when collecting personal data electronically. Or, if you want to find out more about the data subject access request process, click here.


Understand What Personal Data Means Under CCPA

To protect its residents against dishonest companies that sell private and sensitive information about their consumers for profit, the state of California created a statute in 2018 called the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). 

This statute gives the residents of California more control over their personal information by enabling them to request total disclosure of the type of personal information being collected about them and for what purpose.

What is personal information under CCPA? The CCPA defines it as anything identifying or describing a consumer, including names, contacts, birth certificates, credit card information, insurance policy details, social security numbers, etc. 

Once you understand the type of personal data subject to CCPA and related laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you will be able to figure out the most effective way to stay compliant.


Reasons You Need Personal Data

You should only collect and keep personal information about your customers for legitimate reasons. Start by establishing ground rules for collecting personal data from your customers. From there, you’ll be able to create a data collection system that only accesses the data you need. That way, you won’t collect information that isn’t integral to your business. 

Please note that the more sensitive personal data you collect from your customer, the more you will need to invest in expensive and complex information protection systems for proper data management and protection.


How To Comply With CCPA And GDPR

The CCPA gives consumers residing in California the right to request the organizations they are dealing with disclose the type of information they collect from them and what they intend to do with it. If your organization is subject to this privacy policy, it must develop a reliable data subject access request process that enables it to respond promptly and satisfy every verified request.

Perhaps you are wondering, is the CCPA different from the GDPR? While separate government bodies across an ocean established the two regulations, their objectives are similar. The GDPR, which applies to companies doing business within the European Economic Area, stipulates that personal data collection should be for specific, obvious and legitimate purposes. It also prohibits businesses from processing personal customer data for reasons outside the scope of its primary objectives. 

So, you need to be aware of the privacy policies in your area and follow them closely. Failure to respond to a legitimate consumer data request will lead to prosecution and hefty penalties.

CTA General Privacy Graphic (1)How To Protect The Personal Data You Collect

When consumers share their data with your organization, they expect you to keep it safe. Therefore, you need to develop proper data protection mechanisms to secure your data. 

Please note that an adequate data protection system must cover four main elements:

  • electronic security 
  • physical security
  • trained personnel
  • reliable service providers and independent contractors.


Final Thoughts

You need to understand what privacy laws say about handling sensitive personal electronic data. Remember that there will be some limitations to what you can do. So, to remain compliant, you need to stay diligent and never assume that your business is safe. Don’t “set and forget” your data compliance procedures. They need to be revisited regularly to improve your data storage methods and to be confident that you’re following the legislation to the letter of the law.  

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