Privacy measures should be proactive, not reactive 

May 3rd – 9th is Privacy Awareness Week. 

There has already been a quantum of data breaches in 2021 which highlights just how severe privacy breaches can be and reiterates the importance of establishing and reviewing your business’ privacy practices.   

Protecting the personal information of customers is a legal obligation for Australian businesses under the Privacy Act 1988, as well as a range of other legislation. Failing to do so can be detrimental to an organisation, exposing them to potential lawsuits, reputational damage, operational inefficiencies and increased customer dissatisfaction. 

As we become more digitally connected, the implications of data breaches have become more severe than ever before. 

Businesses need to implement and maintain privacy measures proactively.   

Taking a proactive approach to information privacy establishes a culture of trust and reliability and meets the social expectations of customers who place high importance on their privacy.  

Here are GWI’s top tips for establishing and maintaining proactive data privacy in your organisation:  

  1. Privacy by design is easier than retrofitting  

Privacy by design is key to creating a culture of confidence and trust and allows you to ethically leverage information to make a difference for your customers.  

This concept is widely recognised as an effective method of information protection. It involves embedding good privacy measures as the automatic standard across your business. Ensuring your businesses systems, services, practices and products have privacy considerations built in sets up reliable best practices throughout their lifecycle.  

  1. Use Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA) to embed privacy practices.   

PIAs help to identify and reduce privacy risks they could potentially face when starting a new project, implementing a new service or policy, or when major changes occur.  

PIAs should be done as early as possible periodically throughout the lifecycle of a system and service. Once the PIA has been completed, actions to resolve identified risks and ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations can be taken. 

  1. Continually uplift staff capabilities   

Privacy breaches can be caused by staff mishandling information or other human error. To prevent this, businesses should invest in regular staff training to uplift their capabilities and awareness of information privacy. Although it can be costly to implement, prioritising staff training has several long-term benefits for an organisation:  

  • The staff know information privacy best practice over the entire information lifecycle   
  • Can more easily detect, respond to and resolve a breach  
  • Minimise the impacts it has on your business by reducing the time taken to respond  
  • Ensures your team is informed on changing laws and regulations.  
  1. Ensure end-to-end protection   

Businesses need to define clear standards for the collection and handling of information to guarantee the highest level of protection across the entire information lifecycle.  The archiving and disposal of information can be easily forgotten if it isn’t integrated into business practices.  

Developing and implementing detailed data retention and disposal policy enables businesses to safely and responsibly collect, use and then discard data whilst complying with regulatory and ethical requirements. It also gives your customers peace of mind that their information is being handled ethically and correctly by your organisation.   

Privacy Awareness Week is the perfect time to review your organisation’s information privacy practices.   

Privacy is not just an IT issue; it should be an organisation-wide concern. Although it can be time-consuming and potentially costly to implement from the beginning, preventative privacy measures ensures a solid foundation of good privacy practices.   

Talk to GWI’s privacy expert Dr Vanessa Douglas-Savage if you’d like to know more about how we can help your organisation.