7 Ways to Prepare Data in the Age of Privacy and Information Governance

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7 Ways To Prepare Data In The Age Of Privacy and Information Governance

7 Tips for Data Preparation in the Age of Information Governance

Content may still be king, but now the rights to some of it may belong to the people! In response to the EU’s General Data Protection Requirement (GDPR) and recent stateside efforts to enshrine data protection including the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), organizations are revisiting the efficacy of their Data and Information Governance (IG) programs. Laws and regulations vary by industry and company size but each intend to protect consumer’s personal data by prescribing technical and governance standards backed by stiff penalties for non-compliance.

Notably, while many companies are already familiar with records retention laws, these latest controls also introduce a duty to destroy data once no longer required for a legitimate business purpose. For entities that have grown accustomed to leveraging cheap digital storage, this new responsibility presents a number of logistical hurdles.

However, directives on how you may use your customer’s data or any other information you store doesn’t necessarily have to be burdensome. In fact, these new guardrails present numerous opportunities to implement better governance, monetize the lifecycle of information assets and foster trustworthy relationships that can actually enhance the customer experience.

These 7 tips can help prepare your data to support an IG strategy:

  1. Automate Retention Schedules – Legal and compliance requirements are the cornerstones of corporate governance programs. Yet tracking the multitude of historical and emerging state, federal and international laws and regulations that affect your data decisions can be a monumental task that even the most robust law departments aren’t prepared for. Consider leveraging SaaS software to keep your Risk, Compliance and Legal staff current on the latest citation changes to these nuanced instructions. These tools empower you to defensibly destroy and cleanse costly data no longer useful to your organization.
  2. Cover Your Assets – Satisfying new compliance requirements like GDPR and CCPA means it’s not enough to simply know what kinds of records you keep, you need to know what systems they’re kept in and how that data flows between them. That’s why Chief Data Officers and Enterprise Architects are increasingly embracing asset management tools that not only perform diagnostics on their application stack but allow them to inventory their attributes and map related processes that inform long-term strategic roadmap planning. Tools like these also help support application rationalization projects which in turn aid in classification and disposal of unneeded data.
  3. Introduce Big Buckets – The biggest challenges with enforcing retention across an enterprise are “event triggers” that complicate how long sets of records must be retained. For example, an employee file might be held X years following a termination “event.” Big Bucket strategies allow you to simplify and group “like” records together to support more efficient destruction actions while assuming some risk. Work with your governance partners to determine reasonable standards for a Big Bucket policy and quantifying the acceptable amount of risk your company is willing to assume to achieve cost and efficiency benefits.
  4. Enforce Legal Holds – Cleansing your data lakes and silos to save costs and minimize risk is an exercise in defensible destruction but requires awareness of outstanding legal holds. A company that spoliates evidence subject to a legal hold, even without malice, can be fined and suffer adverse inference litigation rulings resulting in unfavorable judgments. Additionally, healthy oversight of records under a preservation hold doesn’t just make good legal sense, it can also help better identify opportunities for even more defensible destruction, cost reduction and risk mitigation.
  5. Activate File Analysis – The tricky thing about new laws like the CCPA is that they require companies to find and produce data for the consumer wherever it exists. That can be a cumbersome test for many entities that have hundreds or thousands of repositories. Luckily, advanced File Analysis tools can plug directly into your network and help quickly identify sensitive and personally identifiable information (PII). They can also help you deduplicate records and find redundant, obsolete and trivial data clogging your systems, also known as ROT. These tools produce a tangible ROI that management can point to as a prime example of why IG works.
  6. Embrace Content Migrations – Unless you’ve only lived in one home your entire life, you’ve probably experienced the cathartic process of cleansing your old wares in preparation for a move. Bringing in a new content management system is not much different and it’s a unique opportunity to apply retention to your data, discard ROT and provide employees with more accurate knowledge resources.
  7. Bake-in Best Practices – Information Governance is not a “one and done” proposition, it’s a rinse and repeat discipline that only works when management sees to it that organizational culture is along for the ride. These days a basic understanding about data handling is vital for every new hire. Concepts like records retention, data protection and privacy should be part of any overall corporate training plan.

By complementing policy frameworks and toolsets with the types of Information Governance approaches noted here we can better enable our workforce to hone their knowledge skills, achieve defensible destruction and improve audit outcomes. In effect, we are future proofing ourselves for a business world destined to face increased scrutiny and under siege from data breaches and privacy issues with seemingly no end in sight. IG is the bright light at the end of that tunnel.

Rafael Moscatel, CRM, IGP, is the Managing Director of Compliance and Privacy Partners, LLC. Reach him at 323-413-7432, follow him on Twitter at @rafael_moscatel or visit http://www.capp-llc.com to learn more.

Originally published in Document Media Magazine, July 2019.

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