Data Privacy Checklist for Startups: Things to Consider

Data Privacy for Startups

Starting a new business can be challenging, but incorporating data privacy from its inception need not be. However, data privacy is rarely considered in the face of new ideas, marketing efforts, and other things. In the long run, neglecting the safety of personal data can have unimaginable repercussions. 

In actuality, companies that are in their nascent stages, say at a pre—seed or a seed—stage level, can get an edge over their competitors. When they implement data privacy regulations in their products and services, they will be better prepared for any legislative changes and mandates in the future. 

So, in the sea of so many global privacy regulations, is there a way startups can treat data accurately without going overboard with compliance? How can data privacy be maintained easily without ignoring other aspects, like branding, marketing, and business development? The following data privacy checklist is all you need for your startup. It promises compliance and makes the best use of the available data. 

Why should startups pay attention to data privacy?

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Cyber security and Global Data Privacy Regulations(GDPR) initiatives should be well—known and implemented by startups. If you ignore data privacy laws in the initial stages, it might get difficult for your startups to branch out to other countries, especially the USA and EU countries. Moreover, in case of a data breach, the entire blame will be on you, your investors, your employees, and the whole company. 

Breaches are always ill—timed. However, with a proper data security plan, you can minimize the disruption within your startups. The following two reasons are why you must be ready with an appropriate data security infrastructure:

  1. Cybersecurity and data protection can affect customer perception and business growth

Most buyers engage in various research methods for a product/service due to the fear of a data breach. When you have a proper data security plan implemented throughout your startup, you can prove to your customer, investors, and other interested parties that their data is safe and that they can trust your startup. 

The GDPR and the California Privacy Rights Act ushered in new practices for data protection and levied heavy fines on those companies who didn’t adhere to the data protection laws. As a result, the emphasis on data privacy has increased and will continue to be so for the rest of the time.

As a startup, you can benefit from these data privacy laws whenever you wish to hire new service providers for your business. Before getting them onboard, they should be transparent about their data protection policies and security approach in case of a data breach. It works vice versa, too, and companies in compliance work in sync with each other. 

  1. Startups can avoid cyber—risks and non—compliance penalties

Complete reliance on antivirus, firewall, and other safety software is not the best option anymore. Although startups run on limited resources, it is better to invest most in cyber security and GDPR compliance program early on. The traditional data security methods are not efficient and effective looking at the evolving digital space. 

To make data security and protection to your business strategies, follow the steps below:

  • Perform a cyber security risk assessment

Assess and analyze the systems you use for data protection and make changes and upgrades to them, where required. You can hire an in—house IT person for the job or outsource the service to a cyber security specialist. Complying with all of these legal requirements for data privacy will act as a catalyst to your business’ success.

  • Invest in staff training for data security awareness

Your startup should have a strong culture where data security and protection are respected. Your staff should know all the practices, laws, and penalties attached to accomplishing this. An interesting way to do this is to have training sessions and workshops where they understand the topic more and get their queries answered by data privacy experts. 

  • Outsource help from people who know the best practices for data security

Outsourcing help to experts in the field of data security and protection can be a better option, considering the limited resources you have. Outsourcing makes the process easier, takes the stress off your employees’ backs, and lets them focus on other aspects of your startup. Embedding data security practices in your business strategy will help you sustain your startup in the long run. 

Seven things to include in your data privacy checklist

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  1. Conduct data mapping

Where is your data coming from? What data is your startup collecting? These questions can be answered only through data mapping within your startup to understand your data sources better. Categorize the data collected, assess if you have any sensitive data, group them in one place, and add additional provisions. 

A data inventory will provide a base for the other data security provisions and compliance rules you establish in your startup. For example, you can quickly identify the data types stored, their formats and locations, how they’re shared, who is accountable, and who has access to the data. 

  1. Identify laws for data processing

Every piece of personal data that you collect should be processed in a legally—appropriate manner. The legal foundation for doing so should be transparent. This will be helpful when an investor, a legal advisor, or a customer asks for the legal basis you use to process data. Even under GDPR, businesses are required to document and inform users as it is their right to ask how the companies use their data. 

  1. Limited data collection

Data minimization is a mandate that startups should emphasize in their data privacy checklist. You should collect data only for specific purposes and regularly review and delete unnecessary data. For example, if a customer subscribes to your newsletter, the only information that should be stored is their email address. To summarize the idea, if your startup has fewer data about customers, the easier it gets to be compliant with data security laws. 

  1. Calibrate your privacy policy

The privacy policies you follow will impact privacy strategies and establish the base of trust and transparency between you and your users. The first step is verifying the data collector’s identity, address, contact details, and the DPO. Your startup’s privacy policies should be simple and easy to understand, especially by the general public. 

  1. Create a cookie pop—up

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Cookies collect the most data from people who visit websites on the internet. Therefore, managing user consent is crucial before collecting and storing information in those cookies. The user should be free to choose whether their data can be accessed. 

A method of doing so is creating cookie pop—ups every time someone visits a website. The visitor can enable or disable the cookies from sneaking into their data. Additionally, there should be proof of information storage whenever consent is given. Finally, the user should be able to manage cookie preferences or withdraw consent whenever they wish to. 

  1. Incorporate a consent management platform

Implementing a consent management platform compliant with all laws and regulations, especially GDPR, will give your startup a competitive edge. Using this platform, you can make operations at your startup easier by automating the data storage, collection, and consent management processes. 

  1. Implement company—wide measures

Your IT department or the company you’ve outsourced data privacy management to aren’t solely responsible. Privacy in all forms is of utmost importance now, and your staff should be aware of the consequences of breaching that and understand the need to comply. For startups, implementing data privacy measures should be a conscious decision from the beginning. 

Conclusion

Data privacy is subjective and may challenge businesses, especially startups. However, it is something that the entire world is taking seriously as more people become aware of the pros and cons of letting companies store their personal information. If your company is just starting, this is the only checklist you need to ensure that your data privacy infrastructure is robust. 

By B Naomi Grace

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