How Data Collection Policies Keep Your Organization Secure and Compliant
Consumers continue to demand greater privacy and transparency from companies that handle their data. But meeting these expectations isn’t always simple. Cyber threats, data breaches, noncompliance — challenges abound for organizations that collect, process, and store personal data. These challenges only worsen if an organization has no clear data collection policies and procedures.
If your organization wants to take steps toward improving security and compliance, you must first address how you currently collect and manage data. It is possible to build a strong data culture that facilitates better data usability and strategic decision-making. And it starts by implementing effective data collection policies.
What Is a Data Collection Policy?
A data collection policy is a set of rules that your organization follows to ethically collect, store, access, use, share, and delete data. These rules act as a baseline of data collection best practices when implementing new programs or procedures. It also helps your organization improve compliance with data privacy legislation.
Effective data collection policies include insights into the collection and management of data:
- How data is collected
- What data is collected
- Why data is collected
- How data will be used
- Who has access
- Where data is stored
- How data is shared
- How data is kept private
- How to ensure compliance
The Benefits of Data Collection Policies
Establishing a comprehensive data collection policy at your organization has several key advantages. These policies create the framework for how your employees should approach collecting, managing, and securing data. It also provides clarity for customers who may be wary of how your organization handles their data.
Most importantly, data collection policies improve data security and maintain compliance with data privacy legislation. These laws and regulations dictate how data should be collected, stored, used, and shared. Data collection policies help improve both data visibility and data stewardship, making it easier to meet these regulatory requirements.
Learn how adopting a data stewardship mindset can also help your organization meet security and compliance standards.
The Risks of Not Having a Data Collection Policy
There are clear benefits to having a comprehensive data collection policy. But what happens if you don’t? You can put your organization at risk. And not simply the risk of collecting bad data. A lack of clear data collection policies can also make it difficult to comply with data privacy legislation. It can also damage customer trust.
These are common risks associated with not having a data collection policy.
Collecting Too Much Data
If your team doesn’t know the purpose behind collecting data, your organization may be gathering too much. This can result in asking for too much information that you won’t ever use, potentially putting you out of compliance and creating a security risk.
Collecting the Wrong Type of Data
No clear data collection policies can also lead to gathering the wrong data. Teams that have no direction as to what data they need may end up collecting too little or too much data. Without clarity, they may also end up asking the wrong questions, resulting in data they can’t use.
Storing Data for Too Long
Whether your team collects too much data or data that isn’t useful, this information will still be in your database. The longer information is stored, the greater the risk it can be exposed in a security breach. Poor data storage also means unusable data takes up valuable and costly space.
Misusing or Misplacing Data
No established data collection policy also means no set guidelines for data controls, management, and stewardship. This can result in teams with too much access to sensitive data. If these employees also do not have proper data security training, it puts your organization at greater risk of data being mismanaged.
Violating Data Privacy Laws
Perhaps the biggest risk of not having a data collection policy is the risk of non-compliance. Data privacy legislation is constantly changing. Without clear guidelines on how and why your organization collects data, you’ll struggle to comply with these laws and regulations. Additionally, your organization will be at greater risk for cybersecurity incidents. Data breaches are not only costly but can harm your organization’s reputation and result in fines if data is stolen.
3 Steps to Create a Data Collection Policy
Step 1 – Determine goals and contributors
Work with your organization to first determine the type of policies you will need and who will be involved. Generally, legal, security, HR, and executives work together to establish goals and requirements for these new policies. In this planning phase, it’s helpful to understand what data should be collected and for what purpose. The type of data your organization collects will also determine which data privacy legislation you must maintain compliance with.
Step 2 – Draft and review policies
Once you have determined goals and who is involved, it’s time to draft your new data collection policy. Your goal should be to create a comprehensive set of guidelines that are clearly understandable. These guidelines should also work to address any contingencies. These policies are fluid and should be modified or updated as necessary. Once drafted, your new policies can be sent to your executive team for review.
Step 3 – Distribute and train employees
The approved data collection policy can now be distributed throughout the organization. While these policies may be written clearly, it’s also a good practice to train employees. New guidelines or procedures may take time to adopt, but this will happen faster with training sessions. Your data collection policy can now be added to employee handbooks and posted to your website.
Learn More in Our Webinar
FormAssembly recently solicited a survey of 250 CIOs, CISOs, and SVPs of IT, Security, and Digitial Data at leading organizations across the U.S. and Canada to learn more about their concerns when it comes to data collection, security, and management. Register for our webinar “The State of Data Collection” on March 21st to hear from FormAssembly’s CIO Jai Davda and our partner Tomer Madori from TechUnity as they discuss the results of the survey and share their own experiences as leaders in this space.