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A data protection impact assessment (DPIA) is a type of risk assessment meant to assist organisations in identifying, analysing, and minimising the privacy risks connected with a particular project. As part of the “privacy by design” approach, all entities covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) must conduct regular DPIAs (with limited exceptions). Failure to do so may result in legal action, including the possibility of large fines.

What Are the Advantages of a Data Protection Impact Assessment? (DPIA)

Even if the GDPR isn't applicable to your company, implementing a DPIA will help you reduce the likelihood and severity of a data breach, as well as ensure compliance with other data privacy laws. Conducting a DPIA will allow you to quickly and effectively recover from security issues, avoiding hefty fines and lawsuits.

When is it necessary to do a data protection impact assessment?

A DPIA is necessary under Article 35 of the GDPR in the following circumstances:

A DPIA is required for any project that began on or after May 25, 2018. This also applies to projects that began prior to that date but have since evolved in a fashion that could pose additional privacy issues. In essence, every data processing activity that poses a risk to EU residents' rights and freedoms will be subject to a DPIA. Large-scale processing of personal data, making personal evaluations of individuals, and surveillance of public locations are examples of such activities.

If an organisation processes data on behalf of the public or has a legal obligation to do so, it is not needed to conduct a DPIA. Additional information on the circumstances in which a DPIA is required is provided below.

The number of data subjects engaged, the project's territorial reach, and the duration of the processing operations are all factors in large-scale data processing.

Profiling: Any processing activity that evaluates or scores an individual based on their work performance, health, gender, race, religion, economic situation, and other factors such as the data subject's personal preferences, interests, behaviour, and so on, in order to protect data subjects from unfair discrimination.

Automated decision-making: As previously stated, all data processing operations that rely on automated decision-making must be thoroughly examined to ensure that they do not result in unjust discrimination against a specific individual.

Physical surveillance: DPIAs are necessary for organisations that utilise surveillance technologies to monitor data subjects in public settings.

Processing data belonging to vulnerable individuals, such as minors, people with mental illnesses, and anyone else who may not be able to object to their data being processed.

Merging or comparing data sets: When data processing activities entail merging or comparing various sets of data acquired for different purposes, a DPIA is required.

The usage of fingerprint scanners and facial recognition software, as well as the use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, are all examples of processing biometric data.

When an organisation spreads its services to a country outside of the EU, this is known as data transfer outside the EU.

Restricting a data subject's access to services: In some cases, a data subject's access to a service may be restricted depending on information obtained on their behalf by the organisation. A DPIA will be required in these cases.

Data Protection Impact Assessment: 5 Steps to Success (DPIA)

Step 1: Determine whether your project requires a DPIA– Naturally, the first step is to determine whether a DPIA is required for your project. Documenting the nature, scope, context, and goal of the processing actions is part of this.

Step 2: Select the appropriate individuals — A project leader must be appointed in addition to appointing a Data Protection Officer (DPO), which is required if the organization's primary activities include data processing procedures that necessitate the systematic monitoring of data subjects on a wide scale. They may also opt to recruit IT specialists, lawyers, analysts, and other experts with substantial data privacy experience.

Step 3: Make a list of all of your assets and look for any potential vulnerabilities – Create a prioritised list of important assets and resources, as well as a list of any potential threats. Using an automated data identification and classification tool to assist you identify what sensitive data you have and where it is located is a good place to start. Maintain in mind that you'll also need to keep track of your physical assets, such as hard discs, devices, servers, routers, and printers. You'll need to keep track of the numerous ways these assets can be compromised, as well as the potential consequences if they are. This would also entail determining which other systems and data are reliant on those assets.

Step 4: Keep track of all risk-mitigation tools and processes – To reduce the risk of a security breach, build an inventory of the security tools and processes you already have in place, much like you did with your essential assets and resources. You'll also want to keep track of what dangers these tools and processes help to minimise, as well as how they do so. Any applicable technologies or processes that you don't have but believe will help you improve your security posture should be listed as well.

Step 5: Create a DPIA report — The final step is to create a detailed report that includes a complete explanation of the project, its goal, and its scope. This report should include all of the information from the previous phases. Your DPIA report should also provide details on the efforts your company has made to mitigate risks and comply with GDPR regulations. Even if it is not required by the GDPR, publishing your DPIA report is excellent practise since it demonstrates transparency and accountability to your stakeholders, including your consumers. The report should include all relevant individuals, including the DPO, and it must be signed off by the supervisory authorities.


Data Privacy Impact Assessments are a useful tool for data controllers to use to guarantee that new initiatives involving the processing of personal data are compliant with the GDPR. While the rule lays out a broad set of obligations, the criteria outlined in this blog post can be tailored to the specific nature of a company and its data processing activities.

By giving the ability to automate several discovery and remediation components required for any DPIA, Infinity Legal Solutions can help.

Discover and keep track of the repositories that store personal information.

Ascertain that appropriate data controls are in place by determining who has access to what and how they are using that access.

Real-time risks should be monitored, and procedures should be implemented to prevent unauthorised access to important or sensitive data.

Allow for mass cleanup, such as the ability to restrict access to sensitive data or delete material that has outlived its retention limits.

Schedule your free Privacy Risk Assessment today to learn more about how legal help can assist you in analysing risk to your sensitive data and ensuring compliance readiness.




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