On September 5, 2012, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (“IPC”) released a new guidance paper, entitled “A Policy is Not Enough: It Must be Reflected in Concrete Practices”. This guidance paper will be particularly useful for organizations seeking preliminary guidance on implementing the “privacy by design” principles developed by Commissioner Cavoukian.
The IPC outlines 7-steps for implementing privacy policies. Sensibly, the Commissioner acknowledges that there are no “one-size-fits-all” approaches for embedding privacy-by-design practices. Nevertheless, Commissioner Cavoukian notes that there are are common steps to implementing a course of action. These steps are applicable to organizations of all sizes and complexity.
The following is a brief run-down on the steps and a few comments from my experience:
Step Three: The organization should establish how the organization will demonstrate that the action items have been implemented. Commissioner Cavoukian notes that effective change requires “buy in” from senior management and the demonstrable adherence to the policy by those who are accountable for the action item.
Step Four: The organization should develop an education and awareness training program that is tailored to the working environment of the organization both in structure and content. Initial training for employees on the organization’s privacy practices is critical, but so is on-going education and awareness so that the organizations privacy practices are integrated into the employee’s duties. The IPC recommends at least annual refreshers or certifications. There are diverse methods of education and awareness training. However, to be effective, they must be directly relevant to the employee’s duties.
Step Five: The Commissioner recommends the designation of a “Go to” person. Employees should have a person that can address privacy concerns raised by employees and to assist them in assessing the implications of particular privacy practices.
Step Six: Organizations must audit compliance: “Trust, but verify”. An organization should have a policy on the types of compliance audits that will be conducted and the procedures for those audits. The audit process should be documented.
Step Seven: The last step is to prepare for a privacy breach. Too often organizations are unprepared to handle a serious privacy breach. The Commissioner states that “[i]t is increasingly important that organizations of all sizes be prepare to react to data security incidents”. An organization should have a data breach protocol so that the organization is able to react quickly and effectively. Privacy breach protocols assist in identifying the initial steps and persons accountable for reporting the breach, containing the breach, notifying affected individuals, investigating the causes and recommending remediation actions.