Nixon Digital

What are the basics of a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA)

A Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) is covered in Article 35 of the GDPR which requires all organizations to perform DPIA where processing may pose a high risk to rights and freedoms by the data subject. Therefore, a data protection impact assessment is necessary when you process personal data. Examples of these processes include the systematic monitoring of individuals and the processing of special types of personal data. From the Office of Data Protection Ombudsman’s websites, you can learn more when DPIA is required.

DPIA as a Risk Management tool

Data Protection Impact Assessments can be defined as a risk management tool that helps organizations identify, assess, and mitigate “high” privacy risks in systems, technologies, and systems or process. Achieving DPIA helps operate privacy by design. This means that implementing DPIA helps to integrate privacy into the development of products and services. DPIA is also useful for assessing the privacy impacts of continued use of existing systems, technologies or processes.

Involve relevant stakeholders to the DPIA process.

It is important to note that conducting a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) is not a single event, but rather an ongoing and continuous process. The purpose of a DPIA is to proactively identify potential risks and provide suitable solutions, rather than serving as a mere one-time compliance report. Engaging all stakeholders is critical throughout the DPIA process to ensure comprehensive analysis and effective decision-making. By engaging stakeholders, DPIA aims to provide them with the information necessary to make informed judgments about the handling of personal data in various business activities. The collaborative nature of the DPIA process promotes transparency, accountability, and responsible data handling in organizations.  

Reasons to carry out a DPIA

In addition to demonstrating compliance and proof that your organization meets the required GDPR requirements, there are several reasons to conduct DPIA. A well-organized DPIA creates communication between stakeholders. It can also protect an organization’s reputation by avoiding publishing informational products and services. Finally, DPIA is useful for collaborating with internal and external parties, it is an internal and external control that must be adopted and used later in communication with authorities.

Process Overview of Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA)

At the beginning of the DPIA process are the records processing activities. The document serves as a basis for the initial “threshold” assessment. After this risk review, if it is found that the processing activities are likely to pose a high risk to the rights of individuals, the organization should perform a data protection impact assessment (DPIA). There is also a need for follow-up actions, such as advice to a supervisor, if control measures are insufficientrisk.

GDPR is flexible in determining the exact structure and format of a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) report. However, at a minimum, DPIA records must include: 

  • It must include a systematic description of the expected processing activities and the purpose of the data processing, including, if any, the legitimate interests pursued by the controller;
  • It shall include an assessment of the need and adequacy of the processing operations against the intended purpose;
  • And it should include an assessment of the risks to the rights and freedoms of individuals.

There are many different risk assessment methods and frameworks that can help with risk mapping. The methodology used should be tailored to the needs of the organization and should be based on the following:

  • Risk analysis from the view of the data subjects;
  • Likelihood and severity assessment;
  • Residual risk after the implementation of mitigating measures.

Tips for carrying out Data Protection Impact Assessments

Here are four practical tips for carrying out DPIA in your organisation:

  1. Design an overall workflow and DPIA methodology that is right for your project.
    • Identify the need for a DPIA
    • Describe the processing
    • Consultation process
    • Identify and assess risks
    • Identify measures to reduce risk
    • Sign off and record outcomes
  2. Do it as a team that includes all relevant stakeholders who understand the project management cycle.
  3. Integrate this with other existing processes:
  • DPIA is not a one-time tick operation;
  • Ensure that DPIA is a living and consulted document throughout the life of the project;
  • Review DPIA once a year/regularly.
  1. Use a third party to perform the DPIA for you to ensure:
  • Objectivity in risk assessment;
  • Transparency for increased accountability;
  • Training and valuable insights for future DPIA processes.

Moving forward

We assist with data protection impact assessments to assess your company’s current and anticipated operational impact on data protection. Measure compliance, and identify and mitigate risks. We can provide expert advice on privacy and data protection laws. We also help establish procedures to ensure compliance with the law. So, contact one of our privacy experts if you’d like to learn more about the Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA).