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Your General Counsel and CISO Must Align on Data Privacy

Alicia diVittorio, August 9, 2023

Smart companies are taking note of data privacy’s evolving regulatory landscape and increasing consumer awareness around why and how organizations are collecting their data. 

These changes are pushing companies to establish strong data privacy practices as a core operating principle and demonstrate transparency to customers. Organizations can ensure privacy is seen as a priority by hiring dedicated data privacy professionals or assigning privacy-related responsibilities to a specific department.

Even if a specific department handles privacy responsibilities, prioritizing data privacy alignment across all departments is key for staying ahead of a quickly shifting regulatory landscape. Eliminating a siloed approach to data privacy and prioritizing cross-functional alignment can reduce security and regulatory risks and make your privacy program a business differentiator.

De-Silo Data Privacy Efforts

The stakes have never been higher when it comes to managing data privacy, and a siloed approach isn’t effective in the current regulatory and business landscape. 

Companies may take varied approaches to decide who spearheads privacy policy and practice development, but the goal is always to ensure protection for company, employee, and customer data privacy interests. For example, some companies may charge their IT or legal departments with tasks like implementing policies developed by security, legal, and compliance teams, monitoring data access, and working with individual departments to ensure compliance with organizational policies. 

Developing solutions that both evolve as an organization scales and account for the full breadth of applicable data risks and regulations may be difficult. Companies can help their security, privacy, and legal teams develop and implement comprehensive privacy frameworks by fostering alignment across departments. Organizations that prioritize cross-departmental privacy collaboration: 

  • Minimize the risk of a sensitive data breach
  • Ensure regulatory compliance with data privacy laws
  • Demonstrate a commitment to transparency and protecting data privacy rights
  • Build trust with potential, current, and future customers

Legal, Security, and Privacy Teams Must Work Together 

Developing a comprehensive approach to data privacy means tearing down silos and recognizing a shared core objective: Risk mitigation. 

Legal teams usually work to lower the risk of data privacy violations and regulatory noncompliance while security tends to focus on identifying potential threats or vulnerabilities within organizational systems. 

Despite their different areas of expertise and emphasis, security and legal teams should collaborate to achieve their shared goal of identifying and mitigating organizational risk. Together, these teams can break down siloed privacy operations and build comprehensive programs by sharing their respective specialized knowledge.

Once data privacy goals are set and cross-departmental buy-in is solidified, privacy leaders can design, implement, and advocate for practices to lower organizational risk. Some of those initiatives include but are not limited to:

Collaborative Data Mapping

Mapping third-party SaaS apps, internal systems, and sensitive data should be the foundational step for building a comprehensive privacy program. Legal teams provide expertise and guidance on data privacy laws and regulations, while security departments help legal identify and understand various systems and technologies that support critical business operations.

Privacy-Focused Business Process Development

Legal departments can help translate complex laws and guidelines to create questions for security teams to ask themselves and other departments when assessing the data privacy risks of various business processes. Security teams can then provide insight into the processes using information systems, like data analytics and engineering. 

Legal and security can also work together to research, propose, and advocate for automated solutions like data privacy management software to help their organization avoid inefficient manual solutions that may be outdated by the time implementation is complete.

Privacy by Design Advocacy

Privacy by Design is a framework that focuses on building privacy into the foundation of all operations, products, and strategies of the company. Legal, security, and privacy teams should collectively make the case to management that privacy-first principles and practices (like data minimization) lead to better business outcomes across all areas of an organization.

Why an Aligned Privacy Approach Matters 

Companies that make data privacy a core business objective and encourage alignment across departments will reap the benefits:

Culture of Privacy

Cross-collaborative team efforts make it easier for companies to embed a culture of privacy across the entire organization. Bringing teams and leaders together to align on goals ensures companies will have privacy advocates across their organization that can help guide and implement change.

Regulatory Compliance

Privacy’s regulatory landscape is constantly shifting and companies often find it challenging to keep up and proactively avoid violations. Interdepartmental alignment on areas like data mapping, risk management, and policies and procedures helps ensure organizations stay on top of evolving privacy regulations. 

Risk Management & Mitigation

Privacy breaches and regulatory violations may result in financial loss, reputational damage, and legal penalties. These consequences are as avoidable as they are severe. 

Companies that de-silo their approach to data privacy are well equipped to minimize the risk of data breaches and privacy violations and reduce the impact of such incidents.

Competitive Advantage

People are increasingly concerned about privacy, and companies that demonstrate a strong commitment to supporting consumer privacy rights gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Companies can show they take privacy seriously and differentiate themselves from competitors by being transparent about their privacy practices.

DataGrail’s Privacy Control Center provides organizations with the necessary tools and features to build, manage, and evolve a comprehensive privacy program and de-silo privacy operations. Get in touch or request a 1:1 demo to learn how we can support your teams.

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