3 Ways to Improve Privacy before the End of the Year

Privacy is about more than a yearly compliance audit; it can actually drive organizational efficiency and engagement. We offer some simple ways to improve privacy before the end of the year.

In many organizations, privacy is a major topic of discussion once a year, when a consultant is hired to conduct a privacy audit. The consultant interviews management and delivers a report identifying risks and making recommendations. Depending on the severity of the risks discovered, worry and confusion may ensue as management tries to implement rapid changes, or privacy issues may be largely forgotten until next year.

Many front-line staff and even management understand privacy simply as a matter of complying with policies, following procedures and keeping information secure. This is basically a negative approach to privacy – one of avoiding problems. In our engagements with clients, we try to take a positive approach that emphasizes the ways in which improved privacy practices can contribute to organizational efficiency, staff engagement, and good client relations.

We suggest three ways for organizations to start building a positive organizational culture of privacy:

Evaluate Privacy Maturity

Privacy is not just an obligation and an expense – it can actually drive improved organizational performance and efficiency. By taking a maturity approach to privacy, we aim to help our clients move from a pass-fail paradigm of verifying compliance to a growth paradigm. Our Risk-Based Privacy Maturity Model examines not only whether required policies and processes are in place, but also how well privacy practices are implemented through business processes and workflows. This approach helps organizations go beyond ensuring compliance, to envisioning ways that implementing privacy best practices can support their own needs and goals. Are there ways to automate certain functions related to access management and monitoring? Does consent involve unnecessary paperwork that could be simplified or eliminated? Are there more efficient ways to make shared data anonymous? A privacy maturity assessment can help organizations to develop comprehensive processes for identifying legal and regulatory requirements, setting goals based on industry best practices and organizational needs, and evaluating the effectiveness of privacy implementation.

A key feature of a maturity approach is risk-based decision-making. A risk-based approach to privacy, rather than requiring specific privacy and security practices regardless of context, measures how effective an organization’s practices are at reducing quantifiable privacy risk to an acceptable level. Risk metrics enable performance measurement, making it possible to allocate resources to the most efficient privacy and security solutions. And of course, a proactive approach to managing privacy risks can greatly reduce the chance of costly data breaches.

Engage Your Staff

Reducing privacy risk does not have to involve expensive new technologies or consultations – it can be as simple as inviting staff across the organization to learn more about privacy. Educating staff about applicable privacy laws and regulations, individual privacy rights, and simple steps for protecting records can raise an organization’s overall level of privacy competence within days or weeks. Staff can initially be sensitized to privacy issues through one or more workshops, with newsletters providing further education and updates on any new policies, practices, or regulatory changes. Engaging staff that might otherwise see privacy simply as a matter of passwords and paperwork is an easy way to increase the effectiveness of an organization’s policies.

Engage Your Clients

Ultimately, privacy legislation and standards are all about respect for individuals’ decisions about their personal information. Everyone has the right to know who has information about them, how it is used and protected, and how long it will be kept. All organizations should make this information openly available to the public and be prepared to answer questions. Providing your clients with clear information about the management of their personal information demonstrates respect and builds trust. Strong communication and transparency around privacy shows a willingness to be accountable, which can be a differentiating factor in the eyes of clients, external funders, and business partners.

The post 3 Ways to Improve Privacy before the End of the Year appeared first on KI Design Magazine.

3 Ways to Improve Privacy before the End of the Year was first posted on November 22, 2016 at 8:00 pm.
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