Data retention is top privacy concern for businesses

Latest findings from the DPO Centre and the Data Protection World Forum (DPWF) UK Data Protection Index show that data retention is now the biggest privacy concern facing organisations in Q2 of this year.

The index, which surveys an extensive panel of over 400 UK Data Protection Officers’ (DPOs) for their opinions on evolving industry trends, reveals that data retention topped the list of data concerns at 26%, closely followed by international data transfers (20%), and accountability and demonstrating compliance (16%).

In the report, concerns around data retention were largely focused on data retention policies, which specify how long organisations must keep information and how they then dispose of it. This result may be linked to the Covid-19 pandemic and uncertainty as to whether employees are retaining data on personal devices or making additional paper copies of data, which have become far more difficult to monitor when working from home.

The Covid-19 pandemic is also cited as the reason why DPOs’ perception of the importance of complying with privacy and data protection laws is now at its highest level since the Data Protection Index started a year ago. Almost four in ten DPOs (39%) said this had significantly increased and gave a score of 8 or more out of 10, compared with just 21% in July 2020.

The latest findings of the Index highlight the many complexities now involved when handling data. Rob Masson, CEO of the DPO Centre commented:

“It has been a roller-coaster of a year for the privacy and data protection industry. Organisations in the UK are now subjected to more privacy regulations and complexity than they ever have been. The lasting impact of Covid and the new array of regulations post-Brexit and the Schrems II decision, means companies are grappling with their data responsibilities.”

But where international data transfers are concerned, DPOs have shown slightly more optimism around the relaxation of personal data transfer restrictions with other countries following the adoption of an adequacy agreement with the EU. In addition, it is widely expected amongst DPOs that the UK and US will strike an agreement to allow for the free movement of personal data between the two countries within the next three years.

Masson commented:

“going forwards, the UK has an opportunity to create a strong data infrastructure with a high level of regulatory compliance, alongside developing a data-literate workforce, and increasing the number of people with advanced data skills. The data economy is integral to the UK’s growth and future prosperity.”

Nick James, Founder of the DPWF, said of the Index:

“for me it is results like this which showcase the importance of conducting such research. Throughout these turbulent times it’s difficult to stay abreast of the drivers within our industry. This research is proving a valuable barometer to indicate how the sector is faring and which challenges are front of mind.”

The full report of the latest UK Data Protection Index survey is available here.

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