Why your organization requires an up-to-date privacy policy

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One of the most important responsibilities for any organisation is keeping its data secure. Data privacy will be an increasing focus for companies of all sizes in 2023 as countries across the globe enact stricter privacy legislation.

Preparing for these major changes can be overwhelming, especially for organisations that conduct business across multiple geographic regions. A good place for your company to start is by reviewing your data privacy policy and validating that it’s properly up to date. Doing so can help prevent a wide range of issues down the line, such as damage to your brand’s reputation and heavy financial penalties.

What is a privacy policy and why is it important?

First, let’s establish what a data privacy policy is. A privacy policy is typically a document that explains how your organisation manages customer, client or employee information. Privacy policies are usually available to anyone who visits your company’s website, and it specifies what data you may gather from them. This includes obvious items like names, addresses and payment details, in addition to supplemental information such as order histories, use of cookies and browsing habits.

From this definition, it’s clear that privacy policies are a key touchpoint between you and your consumers. Not only are privacy policies highly prominent, but they should also lay out your position in granular detail regarding the collection and usage of every customer’s data. And remember that most privacy regulations are associated with where your consumers are located rather than where your company is headquartered.

Neil Jones
Neil Jones

Neil Jones is Egnyte's Director of Cybersecurity Evangelism.

Five reasons to keep your privacy policy updated

There are many reasons why it’s so crucial for organizations like yours to keep your privacy policy updated, but five of the most significant are as follows:

1. Complying with new and changing regulations

Data privacy regulations are rapidly evolving, with different countries amending, updating and tightening legislation. Staying on top of these changes and ensuring they are reflected in your organization's own privacy policy needs to be a top business priority. Otherwise, you could quickly find yourself exposed to fines and other repercussions.

2. Understanding stricter enforcement of potential violations

Government entities and regulatory bodies are taking a closer look at data privacy. For example, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) recently fined WhatsApp for violating the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The DPC also determined earlier this year that Facebook and Instagram owner Meta had violated GDPR because of the company’s advertising and data handling practices.

3. Reassuring consumers

Consumers are taking their personal privacy more seriously as it’s increasingly viewed as a global human right. Keeping your privacy policy updated is a great way for your company to demonstrate that you are taking their needs seriously. Failure to do so can have a hugely negative impact, as we have seen consumers stop conducting business with organizations due to their dubious data privacy practices.

This is particularly important for organisations whose target audience includes young children. The EU and the U.S. require organisations to obtain verifiable parental consent before personal information is collected, used or disclosed from children (please be aware that the specific age of consent varies). Many such regulations contain specific sub-clauses that are regularly updated and amended, making it critical to actively monitor and ensure changes are reflected in your privacy policy. If not, the consequences can be severe, as evidenced by the recent news that video gaming firm Epic Games would have to pay $275 million to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

4. Addressing any obsolete policies resulting from mergers, acquisitions and entry into new business markets

In many cases, mergers and acquisitions can result in outdated or misaligned privacy policies for one or all parties involved, which is why updating policies should be a mandatory part of this process. Furthermore, when entering a new business sector or international market, organizations can quickly find themselves exposed to new data privacy regulations that did not pertain to them previously.

5. Confirming that policies are fully aligned with current data processing practices

The growing focus on data privacy means that regulators are paying closer attention to how organisations process sensitive data. As such, any amendments to data processing approaches must be quickly reflected in your privacy policy.

It’s time to take action

The spotlight is shining brighter than ever on data privacy, which means businesses of all sizes need to ensure that they are fully prepared, both from a regulatory and operational standpoint. Doing so ensures compliance with ever-tightening privacy laws worldwide and provides reassurance to consumers everywhere that data protection and privacy are a top priority for all involved.

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Neil Jones

Neil Jones is Egnyte's Director of Cybersecurity Evangelism.