12 Components of a Strong GDPR Compliance Framework

Blocksurvey blog author
Apr 3, 2024 · 4 mins read

Creating a strong GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance framework is essential for any organization that handles the personal data of individuals within the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA).

GDPR compliance framework helps comply with the law and builds customer trust by protecting their data.

Here are the key components of a strong GDPR compliance framework.

  • Data Protection Officer
  • Data Mapping
  • Privacy Notices
  • Data Subjects’ Rights
  • Data Protection Impact Assessments
  • Data Breach Response
  • Data Processing Agreements
  • Security Measures
  • Record Keeping
  • International Data Transfers
  • Regular Audits
  • Awareness Training

Let’s get the ball rolling.

Data Protection Officer

Appointing a Data Protection Officer is required as per GDPR. DPO is positioned to perform duties and tasks independently and report to the highest management level.

DPOs engage in regular and systematic monitoring of data. They help organizations process sensitive personal data on a large scale. They are involved in all issues related to protecting personal data.

The DPO oversees compliance with GDPR and acts as a point of contact for supervisory authorities. They are also the single point of contact for individuals whose data is processed.

They are expected to have expert knowledge of data protection laws and practices.

GDPR Article 39 covers the tasks of a DPO.

Data Mapping

Data Mapping is the process of indexing and recording how your business collects and stores data. It also maps how data is used in internal and external channels. It helps you understand what personal data you hold, where it came from, and who you share it with. It also helps you manage data effectively and identify the scope of GDPR compliance.

Data Mapping gives organizations a clear picture of their data, enabling them to identify and mitigate risks, such as data breaches, unauthorized access, and data loss.

Any business must present a valid data map showing how it processes personal data to comply with GDPR.

Privacy Notices

GDPR requires that data controllers (organizations) provide certain information to people whose personal information they hold and use. A privacy notice (or privacy policy) is one way of providing this information. This is sometimes referred to as a fair processing notice.

Update your privacy notices regularly to include all the information required under GDPR, such as the purpose of processing personal data and the rights of individuals.

Where necessary, obtain clear, affirmative consent from individuals before processing their data.

GDPR Article 12, Article 13, and Article 14 provide detailed instructions on how to create a privacy notice, emphasizing making them easy to understand and accessible.

Data Subjects' Rights

When becoming GDPR compliant or maintaining compliance stature, your GDPR framework must be designed to protect the GDPR Data Subject Rights.

Ensure mechanisms are in place to address the rights of data subjects.

Below are the data subjects’ rights and their GDPR article number.

  • Right to Withdraw consent (GDPR Article 7)
  • Right to access (GDPR Article 15)
  • Right to Rectification (GDPR Article 16)
  • Right to be forgotten (GDPR Article 17)
  • Right to restrict processing (GDPR Article 18)
  • Right to data portability (GDPR Article 20)
  • Right to object (GDPR Article 21)

Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs)

When your organization collects, stores, or uses personal data, the individuals whose data you are processing are exposed to risks.

A Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIAs) describes a process designed to identify the risks arising out of the processing of personal data and to minimize these risks as far and as early as possible.

Conduct DPIAs for processing operations that pose a high risk to individuals' rights and freedoms. DPIAs are important for negating risk and demonstrating compliance with the GDPR.

Data protection Impact assessment is covered under GDPR Article 35.

Data Breach Response

Organizations must implement procedures to detect, report, and investigate personal data breaches.

GDPR requires organizations to report data breaches to the relevant supervisory authority within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach. GDPR Article 33 discusses the mandate notification of a personal data breach to the supervisory authority.

It is also required that the breach be communicated to data subjects. GDPR Article 34 discusses the mandate of communicating a personal data breach to the data subject.

The notification should include the nature of the personal data breach, categories, the approximate number of data subjects affected, and the approximate number of personal data records affected.

Data Processing Agreements

A data processing agreement is a contract between a data controller and a data processor that sets out their respective rights and obligations concerning the nature of the processing activities of the personal data being handled.

Ensure that contracts with third parties (data processors) who handle personal data on your behalf include clauses that comply with GDPR requirements. This includes obligations around data processing too.

GDPR Article 28 covers data processing agreements under section 3.

Security Measures

Implement technical and organizational measures to ensure security appropriate to the risk.

Below are some key GDPR security controls.

  • Identity and access management
  • Data Loss Prevention
  • Encryption & Pseudonymization
  • Incident Response Plan
  • Third-party risk management
  • Ongoing Confidentiality
  • System resilience

Record Keeping

Maintain detailed records of data processing activities, including the purpose of processing, data sharing, and retention periods, to demonstrate compliance with GDPR.

Records of processing activities must include significant information about data subjects and recipients.

The records have to be kept either in written or electronic form. These Records must be completely made available to authorities upon request.

GDPR Article 30 covers maintaining records of processing activities.

International Data Transfers

Ensure that any transfer of personal data outside the EU is lawful and complies with GDPR transfer mechanisms, such as Adequacy Decisions, Binding Corporate Rules (BCRs), or Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs).

According to GDPR, if you plan on regularly sending data outside the EU, you should state this in your privacy policy. You should list any countries you send personal data to and why.

GDPR article 44-50 covers mandates on transfers of personal data to third countries or international organizations.

Regular Audits

It is recommended that you conduct a GDPR compliance audit at least once a year, but the frequency of this audit will depend on several factors, such as changes to your company's data security and new technologies used by your organization,

GDPR compliance is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. So, regularly review and audit your data processing activities and compliance framework to identify any gaps or areas for improvement.

Awareness Training

Ensure that all members of your organization have attended GDPR Awareness Training.

Regular GDPR training sessions should be conducted to keep staff informed about their responsibilities and the procedures for protecting data.

Generally, training is provided on all aspects of the GDPR. GDPR training can fill gaps in knowledge. It provides awareness of GDPR breaches, cybersecurity attacks, phishing, email threats, misuse of passwords, and more.

The awareness training helps you improve compliance and avoid penalties.

Concluding Thoughts

Crafting a GDPR compliance framework is a critical endeavor. The components outlined within this discussion serve as the pillars upon which a resilient framework is built. As we venture further into an increasingly data-driven world, the principles of GDPR offer a guiding light for organizations to navigate the complexities of data privacy.

By adhering to these guidelines, organizations can achieve a harmonious balance between operations and the management of personal data.

Ultimately, a strong GDPR compliance framework is not just a legal necessity but a strategic asset, fostering a culture of privacy that resonates with customers.

12 Components of a Strong GDPR Compliance Framework FAQ

What is GDPR compliance?

GDPR compliance refers to following the guidelines set forth in the General Data Protection Regulation to protect the personal data of individuals within the European Union.

Why is GDPR compliance important?

GDPR compliance is important because it helps protect the privacy and rights of individuals by ensuring their personal data is handled securely and transparently by organizations.

What are the key components of a strong GDPR compliance framework?

The key components include data protection policies, data mapping, risk assessments, data breach response plans, employee training, and regular audits.

How can organizations demonstrate expertise in GDPR compliance?

Organizations can demonstrate expertise by implementing robust data protection measures, staying up-to-date on GDPR regulations, and obtaining certifications or accreditations related to data protection.

How often should organizations conduct data protection audits?

Organizations should conduct data protection audits regularly, at least annually, to assess their compliance with GDPR regulations, identify any potential vulnerabilities, and implement necessary improvements.

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blog author description

Sarath Shyamson

Sarath Shyamson is the customer success person at BlockSurvey and also heads the outreach. He enjoys volunteering for the church choir.


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