Guide: Data Privacy

Personal Data Processing: Processing Under Data Privacy Laws

The value of data is rising rapidly. Furthermore, the capabilities and availability of retrieving various forms of personal data are developing just as quickly. However, damage to individuals and businesses can result from the improper handling of personal information. This potential damage is why the proper handling of private information is so crucial.

With that, this article will discuss the essentials of Processing Personal Data including:

What is the Processing of Personal Data?

The goal of safeguarding personal information is broader than just preventing unauthorized access to private details about an individual’s life. It is still possible to avoid infringements on people’s rights and freedoms while maintaining the functionality of personal data.


In this context, personal data processing includes processing activities, including collecting, storing, data use, transfer, and disclosure. All acts involving personal data, including planning the processing through erasing the data, are considered parts of the processing of personal data.


To learn more about Data Privacy read about the Basics of Data Privacy

Important Terminologies: Personal Data, Controller, and Processor

Personal Data is any information about an identified or identifiable individual. Personal data includes names, phone numbers, address information, and health details.


A Controller is a person or entity that decides why and how you will process any given set of personal data. Controllers can be an organization that gathers data about their members, such as an association, a hospital that handles patient records, an internet retailer, or a social networking site.


A Processor is a person or business that processes personal information on behalf of a controller. Processors can be any third party having access to the personal data gathered by the controller, such as an IT service provider or a marketing agency handling the marketing for another organization.

Examples of Processing of Personal Data

The data protection principles outlined in most data protection legislations must be strictly adhered to whenever personal data is processed. With that, here are three notable examples of who decides why and how personal data is processed:

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

The HIPAA laws and regulations apply to all “covered entities” who communicate health information electronically, orally, or in writing. It also applies to covered companies’ business associates, such as persons or organizations contracted to perform services but is not part of covered organizations’ workforce.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS)

Credit card firms developed PCI-DSS to protect cardholder data. PCI-DSS regulations are contractual agreements enforced by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC), an independent multinational group founded in 2006. These standards outline the requirements for any business that stores, transmits, or processes credit card information. 

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR is a clear set of principles that recognizes that different types of personal data demand different degrees of protection. Under GDPR, sensitive data such as health, biometrics, genetics, or criminal background get highly protected. Moreover, large-volume data collectors must register with government-appointed Data Protection Authorities.

The Six Principles of GDPR

When handling personal information, there are six tenets outlined in the GDPR:


  • Lawfulness, Fairness, and Transparency: Data processing should consider the participant’s expectations for its use.
  • Purpose Limitation: Data must only be gathered and used for its intended purpose.
  • Data Minimization: The collection of personal information should be just right, meaning sufficient but not excessive.
  • Accuracy: There needs to be a focus on data accuracy and, if necessary, data updates. All efforts must promptly delete or correct any personal information found to be incorrect.
  • Storage Limitation: Pare down unnecessary information by erasing it. Data subjects should only be identifiable for as long as necessary concerning the purposes for which the data gets processed.
  • Integrity and Confidentiality: By taking the necessary technical and organizational precautions, organizations must ensure that personal information is secure from accidental loss, erasure, or damage that could result from improper or illegal handling.


Some principles mentioned above are modified to accommodate an exemption in the GDPR for the collection and processing of special categories of personal data for research purposes. The term “research exemption” describes this situation.

3 Best Practices for the Processing of Personal Data

Here are three of the best practices to implement in the processing of personal data:

1. Filter and Organize All Data

A company has to know its data inventory to protect its data’s privacy, integrity, and accessibility. It is advisable to conduct a data inventory to help stakeholders properly categorize and classify the data for which they are accountable.


When data is classified and flagged as Personally Identifiable Information (PII), it is easier to ensure that security and privacy protections are adequate and justified.

2. Conduct a Data Privacy Impact Assessment

Consider conducting a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) before any data is processed. The PIA’s purpose is to catalog the potential dangers that could result from the gathering, processing, and storing personally identifiable information.


This conduct is a crucial part of the GDPR’s privacy-by-design strategy for dealing with personal information. It is also a great way to ensure data privacy and security from the start of a project’s development.

3. Maintain and Enforce Documented Privacy Policies and Procedures

The Data Protection Officer (DPO) needs up-to-date data inventories, and data flow maps to understand the following:


  • What information is gathered and why
  • How is it being used
  • Where it is getting stored and secured
  • How all access gets managed
  • How will it get destroyed when requested or when its retention period ends


To guarantee data is always secured and appropriately managed, documented privacy and data handling rules must include the people, procedures, and systems involved in these operations.


It is necessary to know what data is being processed, why it is being processed, and on what grounds that processing is taking place to guarantee the safety of personal information. You can accomplish this with the help of a comprehensive data protection audit, which traces the flow of data and determines whether or not all data protection requirements are followed.


Satori provides data security options such as continuously discovering and classifying sensitive data, dynamic data masking, and auditing and monitoring capabilities to ensure that personal data processing is conducted securely. To learn more about how Satori can help you secure data during processing schedule a demo with one of our experts.

Last updated on

October 30, 2022

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