Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA)

Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) is a tool for measuring compliance, identifying and minimizing privacy related risks and demonstrating accountability. PIAs are conducted to safeguard the rights and freedoms of individuals in developing new products and services or undertaking any other initiatives that involve processing of personal data. The objective of PIAs is to systematically identify the risks that the planned initiative poses to privacy and personal data as well as to examine and evaluate alternative ways for data processing to mitigate these potential risks.

As the possibilities for organizations to collect and process personal data keep on growing and consequently data protection legislation is continuously updated, it is increasingly important that organizations processing personal data take the individuals’ rights to privacy and data protection into consideration. To avoid non-compliance with policies, standards and legislation as well as to mitigate privacy and data protection related risks, organizations should analyze how a new project, service or any other business initiative affects the rights and freedoms of individuals.

EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) entails a risk-based approach to processing personal data and imposes an obligation to demonstrate compliance with its requirements. Privacy Impact Assessments are a cornerstone of implementing the GDPR’s risk-based approach and demonstrating compliance with the GDPR. The GDPR sets forth that Data Protection Impact Assessment will become a compulsory process in a variety of cases where personal data is processed in a way that is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals. A PIA can be used as a tool to measure and demonstrate compliance with these requirements by conducting an additional risks to rights and freedoms assessment.

Privacy Impact Assessments measure compliance, identify privacy related risks and demonstrate accountability. In addition, a PIA also significantly benefits the organization with facilitating communication between the different groups of stakeholders. Identifying risks to privacy and data protection is not always easy, but certainly worth all the effort: a thoroughly conducted PIA provides the organization with greater control over the daily business processes and, moreover, enables organizations to make informed decisions regarding the new initiatives. Privacy does not prevent cool things from happening but things just need to be done “the right way”.

Introducing a tool as an assistant in conducting of Privacy Impact Assessments can present significant value especially when the need for PIAs is recurring. Automation can improve both the efficiency and quality of the process, because activities are performed with precision and consistency every time and they can be easily repeated if needed. Due to the savings in time and money, each organization should map their options for conducting PIAs and decide which possibility suits them.

To find out more, read our white paper on Privacy Impact Assessments.

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