What is a data protection policy (UK)?
A data protection policy (UK) is an internal business document that sets out the standards that a business will meet, and the procedures it will follow, in relation to privacy and data protection. It is a guide for staff who handle personal data on how they should use it in a safe and compliant way.
Why does my business need a data protection policy (UK)?
A data protection policy (UK) can be key to ensuring that your business has all necessary policies and procedures in place in order to comply with UK data protection laws. Data protection law can be a complex area, so having a well-structured data protection policy (UK) is crucial to enable staff, and the business as a whole, to comply with data protection laws.
A data protection policy (UK) can provide many benefits to a business, including:
Protects reputation - people’s personal data is important to them so a data breach can be extremely damaging to a business’s reputation. Mismanaged data protection practices can lose the hard-earned trust of your customer base and make you less desirable to potential employees - having a clear policy in place reduces this risk;
Avoids fines - in the event of a data breach or other non-compliance with data protection laws, your business could be exposed to multi-million-pound fines and legal action - a well-drafted company data protection policy will include procedures for reducing the risk of, and managing, a data breach;
Shows you take privacy seriously - although it is in an internal policy, a well-drafted data breach policy will show your employee’s that you are serious about protecting personal data and know that compliance with data protection laws is important;
Leads to consistency - as with all internal business policies, an employee data protection policy can help to ensure that staff are taking a consistent approach. It can be a key tool to ensuring that all staff follow the same data protection procedures and comply with data protection laws.
What does a data protection policy (UK) need to include?
There are no strict requirements under data protection law of what a data protection policy (UK) should include, but it should include all areas and procedures that employees should follow in order to comply with data protection laws. This typically will include:
Data protection principles - typically, a data protection policy will tell employees about the key principles of UK data protection laws and how your business can satisfy them;
How the company processes personal data in a lawful, fair, and transparent manner - this type of provision is usually included in order to ensure that all processing is carried out using a lawful basis under UK data protection laws;
Using data for specific purposes - under data protection laws, personal data can only be processed where there is a specific purpose for that processing. A data protection policy (UK) will therefore usually inc;ude a process for ensuring new data processing activities comply with data protection laws;
How the company keeps personal data safe - the data protection policy (UK) will set out details of the business’s security measures and a process for managing personal data breaches in the event that they occur;
How the company shares personal data with others - a clear process for sharing personal data, including in relation to transfers outside of the UK and EEA, should be included in the data protection policy so that employees know when personal data can be shared and any requirements that need to be satisfied for that sharing to take place;
How the company decides what data to delete and when it deletes it - this provision is often included in a data protection policy (UK) to ensure data is only kept for as long as is necessary and complies with the data minimisation principle under data protection laws;
What records the business keeps - a data protection policy (UK) will also include references to other key internal compliance documents, including records of processing activities, data protection impact assessments and incident records;
Who to contact with questions about the policy - whether there is a formal data protection officer in place, or another person responsible for data protection compliance within your business, that should be set out in the employee data protection policy so employees know who to contact with queries; and
What other data protection related policies does my business need?
As well as a company data protection policy, additional policies may also be required to ensure data protection law compliance:
Data Retention Policy - UK data protection laws include principles relating to storage limitation and data minimisation. These principles mean that personal data should only be kept by your business for as long as it is necessary to achieve a particular purpose. Having a clear data retention policy in place that is followed by your staff can be crucial to be able to achieve (and demonstrate) these principles;
Data Breach Policy - a business has 72 hours to report a data breach to the ICO. Having a data breach policy in place can ensure that there are clear procedures in place for your staff to identify, minimise and report a data breach, in compliance with UK data protection laws;
Data Protection Requests Policy - individuals (known as data subjects) have a range of rights under data protection laws. A clear policy can be key for a business to be data protection compliant and handle requests legally. This policy will provide practical guidance for the business's staff, including setting out procedures to identify the individual making the request, when requests can be refused, and ensuring that requests are handled quickly (and within the timeframes set by the UK GDPR).
Find out more about the other documents your business needs to comply with data protection laws here.
How can Docue help?
Docue’s data protection policy (UK) has been drafted, and is maintained, by experienced privacy lawyers. Docue’s platform allows you to create and store a compliant data protection policy at the touch of a button - all you need to do is answer a series of simple questions and you will have a fully tailored data protection policy (UK) in no time. And don’t worry if you get stuck along the way, our lawyer-drafted guidelines are there to steer you in the right direction from start to finish.
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