Data Protection Regulations: A Challenge or Opportunity?
The surge in technological development in the past decade has led to a proliferation of data, which is accessible anytime, anywhere. People use applications at the tip of their fingers, leading to businesses collecting and storing enormous amount of data. In this era of rapid digital transformation and rising cyber threats, data security is the top priority for businesses and consumers. According to a report by Gartner, 58% of businesses prioritize keeping pace with changing regulatory landscape for data privacy.
Compliance with Government regulations enables businesses to protect and manage data better and is crucial for good corporate governance, building trust and maintaining a good reputation. Conversely, non-compliance with data protection laws, will have adverse impact on business operations and financial performance, including significant penalties and reputational damage.
In India, data protection laws have significant impact on organizations operating and managing customer data. For example, the Information Technology (Reasonable security practices and procedures and sensitive personal data or information) Rules, 2011, under the Information Technology Act, 2000, prescribes that businesses must implement reasonable security practices and procedures to protect sensitive personal data, (includes financial information, login credentials and health records).
This makes it imperative for organizations to invest in robust cybersecurity infrastructure and policies to safeguard customers’ data.
Businesses may find compliance challenging, as it requires significant time, effort, and resources, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that may not have dedicated data protection teams.
Businesses might face the following challenges while complying with rules and regulations set by the Government:
- Onboarding data protection experts: To adhere to any laws or regulations, companies require legal experts to provide advice. Similarly, to smoothly comply with data protection laws, businesses must appoint a data protection officer to implement security measures for safeguarding personal data and enhancing the transparency of their data collection and usage practices.
- Implementation cost: For SMEs, implementing security policies and setting up a robust IT security infrastructure can be burdensome in terms of cost.
- Compliance with the various data protection laws: Companies are obligated to comply with the Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information 2011, as well as the Information Technology Act 2008, which governs data protection in India.
Despite the challenges businesses face while complying with regulations, there are opportunities to improve data management and gain a competitive edge. By complying with these regulations, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to protecting the privacy and security of their customers’ data, which can enhance their reputation and build trust with their customers.
A recent study by Cisco found that 84% of consumers are more likely to do business with organizations that prioritize data protection. To take advantage of these opportunities, businesses should follow certain best practices, including:
- Minimizing the amount of data collected to only what is necessary for the business
- Retaining personal data only as long as necessary and securely deleting it once it has fulfilled its purpose
- Avoiding transferring data to areas with inadequate data protection
- Deploying robust security infrastructure to protect against alteration, unauthorized access, or disclosure
- Maintaining an inventory of processed and stored data
- Establishing a mitigation plan to address security issues like data breaches
In today’s dynamic environment, it’s crucial for businesses to understand the significance of complying with regulations. Compliance offers a structure for collecting, storing, and protecting data effectively in this ever-changing environment. By adhering to data protection laws, businesses can ensure that they respect individuals’ rights to privacy and data protection. Businesses need to overcome the obstacles presented by regulations and turn them into growth opportunities.
(The author is Mr. Dhananjay Ganjoo, Managing Director for India and SAARC at F5, and the views expressed in this article are his own)