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How to Ensure Data Lake GDPR Compliance

Read Time: 4 minutes

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a game-changing policy that protects residents of the European Union (EU). Effective as of May 25, 2018, GDPR is significant on a global scale because it applies to any company that does business with an EU citizen and “controls” or “processes” personal data. What’s more, the possible penalties for a GDPR violation are hefty, totaling up to €20 million or 4% of a company’s global turnover — whichever is higher. Compliance is a major issue for companies that are seeking to implement new data governance infrastructure, such as a data lake. Your developer will need to include a few specific tools and functionalities that will allow your company to maintain data lake GDPR compliance. 

Basic Data Management for GDPR Compliance

GDPR defines personal data as any information that can be used to identify a specific individual. The definition is actually very broad, encompassing everything from a name, IP address, physical address, biometrics, genetic data and even information surrounding one’s sexual orientation, religion or political views. This means that your data governance infrastructure will require tools that allow for effective data management

Companies that process sensitive personal information are required to appoint a data protection officer (DPO), who can oversee operations to ensure compliance and respond to any issues that arise. In addition to maintaining a secure data lake, GDPR compliance requires companies to develop data handling policies, data protection assessments and related documentation. 

Larger businesses with over 250 employees are subject to additional policies, such as a requirement to provide users with detailed information on how their information is collected, processed, how long data is retained and how your company maintains a secure data storage environment. Therefore, you may need to work with your data lake developer to ensure that you have a full understanding of your new data handling technology and its workings. 

How to Achieve Data Lake GDPR Compliance

When building a data lake, GDPR compliance must be a key consideration since you’ll need to include a number of critical functionalities. 

The data lake must include some form of tracking log to document actions that have been taken within the data storage interface. This is necessary to help document the extent of any data breach and to document cases where an individual’s information has been removed from the system in response to their request to be “forgotten.” In fact, that brings us to our next point: “the right to be forgotten.” 

The GDPR affords EU citizens with “the right to be forgotten.” This means that, upon request, a company must remove all of an individual’s personal data from their data lake, databases and any other data storage systems. What’s more, companies are required to provide documentation proving that the individual’s request has been honored and their data has been scrubbed from the system. This means your data lake will need more than just logging capabilities; your developers will need to integrate a tool that allows an administrator to locate and remove an individual’s data from the system. 

An effective data lake management interface will also allow your company to respond to a Subject Access Request (SAR), which individuals can request at any time. Companies must provide the individual with a detailed overview of exactly what data is stored in the system.

In the event a data breach occurs, your company must notify the EU’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) within 72 hours of the event. Subsequently, it’s essential that your data lake developers include a security feature that will identify suspicious activities and full-fledged data breaches. This will allow your company’s data handling administrators to promptly investigate and verify a breach so that appropriate measures can be taken. GDPR requires companies to inform the ICO and the individuals who were affected by the data breach. 

Limiting Your Company’s Data Lake GDPR Compliance Burden

Notably, many companies are leveraging encryption to depersonalize data when possible, thereby reducing the burden associated with GDPR. For example, let’s say your company gathers data on website user behavior patterns, including the user’s IP address (which is considered personal data). But really, you may not need the exact IP address once the user’s location data has been extracted. In these instances, you may configure your system to assign a random ID number in place of the IP address. Of course, this probably wouldn’t affect your data lake, since data lakes are used to store raw, unprocessed data; this feature would typically be implemented further downstream in the database and/or data warehouse. 

The development of new data governance infrastructure may serve as a great opportunity to revisit your data governance plan. You can re-evaluate precisely what personal data is required and what personal data can be scrubbed from the system. The less personal data you collect and store, the less you’ll need to worry about GDPR compliance. 

With the potential for tremendous fines, it’s vital that your company has the data management tools it needs to maintain full compliance with GDPR. It’s generally best to work with a data lake developer who has experience implementing robust security features and tools or functionalities that allow your team to manage data in a way that’s fully compliant. 

At 7T, we have extensive experience with data governance, from creating data lakes and a data governance plan, to establishing predictive analytics engines and data visualization tools that allow users to make sense of data like never before. 7T also has a team of talented custom software developers on staff, so we’re able to assist with any custom development projects.

7T maintains offices in Dallas, Houston, Chicago and Austin, but we work with clients worldwide. We offer a full range of innovative technology solutions, including mobile app development, ERP and CRM developmentcloud integrations and system integrations. So if your company needs an elite tech team to help you make the most of your data, contact the team at 7T.

Shane Long

Shane Long

As President of 7T, Shane Long brings experience in mobility that pre-dates the term “smartphone” and the release of the first iPhone. His work has helped revolutionize the growth of mobility by bringing to market one of the first graphics processors used in mobile phones, technology that after being acquired by Qualcomm lived well into the 4th generation of smartphones, as well as helped pioneer the first GPS implementations in the segment. With a strong engineering and business background, Shane understands how the rise of mobility and Predictive Analytics is crucial to greater business strategies geared toward attaining competitive advantage, accelerating revenue, and realizing new efficiencies. As the leader of a B2B mobility solutions provider, he partners with business leaders including marketers and product developers to leverage enterprise mobile applications, big data and analytics, and mobile strategy.

Shane earned a B.S. at Texas A&M (whoop!) and studied mathematics as a graduate student at Southern Methodist University.


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