Organizations are faced with the evolving challenge of collecting and managing more data than ever before while also complying with regional privacy regulations. As we’ve discussed previously in this blog series, data discovery solutions help with these challenges. For privacy teams particularly, the most obvious need for a data discovery solution is the ability to comply with local, regional, and omnibus regulations. To make this a possibility across multiple systems and data assets, privacy professionals need to know where their data is, how it is used, and have the ability to catalog it.

Watch the webinar: Automate Your Privacy Program With Data Discovery  

A key cornerstone of three of the most notable privacy regulations – GDPR, CCPA, and LGPD – is understanding what data you have (is it personal or sensitive data?) and, most importantly, how it is being processed. Under all three regulations, consumers have the right to know what data companies have on them and how it is being utilized. This can be a nightmare for businesses that still rely on manual data mapping and governance practices. AI-driven data discovery tools help alleviate this pressure by addressing the common challenges privacy teams face, such as unexpected data, scaling locations of personal data and data assets to business needs, and responding to privacy rights requests.

Data Discovery Supports Privacy Teams Core Activities

An automated data discovery tool is a powerful asset for privacy teams. Data discovery helps scan systems and the data within and discover and classify personal data and create a data map. This is essential for knowing what data you have. The use of AI and machine learning-based data discovery tools goes beyond just scanning metadata. It helps to:

  • Identify personal data or inferred personal data and tag and enrich data based on the different regulations that apply to it.
  • Take scanned data and map it to central data inventories, which helps to understand data better and generate required compliance reporting (think Article 30 GDPR compliance).
  • Automatically detect and flag privacy risks in your data. Examples include PII in applications where PII is not permitted, sensitive data in unexpected tools, unexpected personal data, and new categories of data elements that require additional security or protection.
  • Enforce retention schedules and policies. Data discovery helps teams understand how long data has been stored and when it was last modified or used, enabling teams to understand where they have “stale” data in violation of their retention policies.
  • Identify redundant, obsolete, or trivial (ROT) data. This reduces the amount of duplicated and unnecessary data that organizations hold, reducing their PI footprint and the likelihood of a breach.

Some of the items that can be identified from automated data discovery include:

  • Systems holding data
  • Data elements help within those systems
  • Categories of data elements
  • Where data is stored
  • How long the data has been stored
  • When the data was modified
  • Who can access the data

It’s critical to know that data discovery is not a silver bullet for privacy teams.  Even with an automated data discovery solution in place, a scan won’t identify all the nuances required by privacy regulations. Organizations, especially privacy teams within them, must still have a firm grasp on lawful purposes of processing data, e.g, legitimate interest or for necessary legal reasons.

See automated discovery in action: OneTrust DataDiscovery 

Data Subject Requests (DSAR) and Data Discovery

One of the most challenging compliance activities for privacy teams are GDPR data subject requests (DSAR), CCPA privacy rights requests, and other consumer rights obligations. Companies often hold data in many different places, which makes it hard to respond to these requests quickly. The response process is often manual, complex, and time-consuming. Businesses often lack dedicated resources to respond to these requests in a timely, efficient manner. Most privacy regulations include requirements around fulfilling privacy rights requests and time limits, which adds additional risks to handling these requests.

Data discovery tools help you to understand precisely where you have identity-correlated subject data. Knowing where you have an individual’s data allows you to target that data and deliver it to the data subject in a timely manner. OneTrust Targeted Data Discovery uses robotic process automation and a powerful workflow engine to provide a seamless and automated way to pull this information and report it. Understanding exactly where you have a subject’s data and then targeting this ensures you will find all of their data. Connecting data to an individual’s profile facilitates essential privacy team activities such as linking consent to specific data, identifying individuals affected by a data breach, and streamlining the fulfillment of DSAR requests quicker and more accurately.  Without utilizing a data discovery solution, there is a real risk that you miss some of that individual’s data and will not be properly fulfilling your obligations for the request.

It’s important to remember that locating an individual’s data is often just one part of completing a privacy request. There are also additional complexities if the individual has chosen to exercise other data requests, such as deletion or portability. Utilizing AI-driven automation will help you better fulfill these requests as you can mask data, transform data into a machine-readable format, and delete or anonymize it automatically. Having these activities completed automatically saves organizations precious time and resources. The result is a seamless privacy rights request fulfillment process rather than a mad scramble across privacy teams.

Watch The Webinar: Why Do Privacy Teams Need Data Discovery 

OneTrust DataDiscovery is a complete data discovery solution for privacy teams. It can file, classify, and provide the full perspective of your data – not just metadata. Our solution offers data discovery for all data sources – structured and unstructured – and cloud-based and on-premise data.

Contact us to learn more about how our multi-functional OneTrust DataDiscovery can help your privacy, security, and governance teams build a comprehensive privacy and governance program.

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Further reading: 

Next steps on data discovery

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