The deadline to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is almost here, but many businesses are still underprepared. If you haven’t taken steps to become GDPR compliant, don’t delay. Organizations that process personal data of EU citizens—regardless of where the organization is located—could face fines of up to 4 percent of global annual revenue if they aren’t compliant by the May 25, 2018 deadline.
As you finalize your GDPR compliance strategy, you’ll be thinking not only about how you can be compliant with the regulation, but how you can avoid creating extra work for yourself and your team in the process. Automation is one of the most important tools for making GDPR compliance painless. An automation solution can trigger automated processes to handle GDPR requirements while also maintaining the detailed logs that auditors want to see.
What is GDPR?
The personal data of EU citizens has until now been guarded by the Data Protection Directive. GDPR is superior to the directive for a few reasons. First, the directive was created in 1995, before digital data was collected and processed in the countless ways it is today. Furthermore, as a directive rather than a regulation, the Data Protection Directive is subject to interpretation by member states. GDPR, as a regulation, carries the force of law across all member states.
While businesses may see GDPR compliance as an obstacle to overcome, as individuals we can all appreciate how worrying it is to know that organizations everywhere are collecting and using our information. From HR personnel records to social media check-ins to IP addresses, our digital footprint says a lot about who we are. Knowing that businesses are complying with GDPR means we can feel safe about the way our personal data is being used—and so can our customers.
GDPR is broken down into eight rights, which include:
- The Right to be Informed—Provides transparency about how personal data is being used.
- The Right to Access—Provides access to your data and any supplemental data being used alongside yours.
- The Right to Rectification—Allows you to have your personal data corrected if it is incorrect or incomplete.
- The Right to Erasure—Gives you the right to have your personal data removed, or “forgotten,” if there’s no compelling reason to store it.
- The Right to Restriction of Processing—Lets you allow your data to be stored but not processed.
- The Right to Data Portability—Allows you to request copies of your data in a common format for use elsewhere.
- The Right to Object to Processing—Prevents data from being processed or included in databases without consent.
- The Right to Not be Subject to Automated Decision Making and Profiling—Allows you to demand human intervention, rather than having important decisions made solely by algorithms.
How to Automate GDPR Compliance
GDPR is all about data—who can store it, access it, and process it. Unfortunately, in most modern businesses, data management is messy and complex. An individual’s data may be stored in a variety of locations, making a process like finding all of a customer’s data and correcting or erasing it tedious and manual. Fortunately, automation can greatly simplify data processes. The right automation solution—such as robotic process automation software—can interact with all of your systems and applications to access and manipulate data quickly.
For example, an individual may contact your company and ask you to remove his or her information from your databases under the right to erasure. You can configure your software robots to intercept the request, verify the identity of the individual, and automatically trigger a data purging process across any locations the individual’s data is stored.
Automation can be used to streamline each of the eight rights. More importantly, it can do so in a way that is unique to your business. Your processes aren’t going to look exactly like anyone else’s—you’re working with a unique environment and unique data collection and storage needs. RPA software is flexible and can be easily configured to automate any workflow.
In order to quickly and effectively automate your GDPR compliance processes, start by documenting everything about your data. Keep a record of what personal information you store and where you store it. This is a great time to identify data you don’t actually need to be storing and get rid of it before GDPR takes effect.
Once you’ve fully documented your existing data processes, you can begin designing the automated workflows that will keep you compliant with GDPR. We have a few resources available to help you design efficient processes and choose the best approach to automating those workflows.
A huge advantage to using an enterprise automation solution to streamline GDPR compliance is that it can also automatically produce the reports and audit logs you need to prove compliance. Configure the reports to be sure that they don’t store any data that you have agreed to purge.
Choosing an Automation Solution for GDPR Compliance
There are a wide variety of business automation solutions available, from the free schedulers that come built into your applications to comprehensive enterprise automation platforms. Many businesses rely on homegrown tools and custom scripts to automate processes. When choosing an automation method for your GDPR compliance processes, keep these factors in mind:
Your automation software should have the flexibility to integrate with any other system or application that touches your data. If a customer requests access to personal data, the fact that it’s stored in the cloud or in a legacy database should not be an obstacle to your automation tool. You may also have data stored redundantly in multiple locations. If GDPR requires you to access an individual’s data, be sure your action can be synchronized across all locations.
The automation solution you choose should have easy options for producing audit logs. Make sure it is always clear who accessed or changed data and when they did so.
Don’t neglect to prepare for privacy regulation updates or changes in your organization’s data collection needs. A custom script will require work from your developers every time a process needs a small tweak. An RPA solution can be updated to meet new requirements with a few quick drag-and-drop actions.