The GDPR and Data Retention

The GDPR is coming soon and its a game changer. One of the areas it looks at is how you store your data and it will be under scrutiny. Its important that your business knows and fully understands the regulations in their entirety.

Data Retention, in terms of a business, by definition is:

The continued storage of an organisation’s data for compliance or business reasons. In most cases, a business is retaining an individuals personal data.

 “Personal Data means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (data subject). An identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, online identifier, or one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that person.”

The retention of data has the following concerns:

  • Legal and privacy
  • Economics and need-to-know
  • Permissible means of storage, access and encryption

If you are a business that handles personal data, you need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • Do you know and understand the GDPR?
  • Who has the responsibility for dealing with the data?
  • What categories does the data store come under with regards to data protection?
  • Other than data protection laws, what other rules, codes or practices should be considered?
  • When should data be retained and when should it be deleted?
  • When would certain data be made exempt from the general deletion principles?

Are you GDPR compliant?

Article 5 of the GDPR, states:

  1. Personal data shall be:
    1. Processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to the data subject (‘lawfulness, fairness and transparency’)
    2. Collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes; further processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes shall, in accordance with Article 89(1), not be considered to be incompatible with the initial purposes (‘purpose limitation’)
    3. Adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed (‘data minimisation’)
    4. Accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay (‘accuracy’)
    5. Kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed; personal data may be stored for longer periods insofar as the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes in accordance with Article 89(1) subject to implementation of the appropriate technical and organisational measures required by this Regulation in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of the data subject (‘storage limitation’)
    6. Processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures (‘integrity and confidentiality’)

In conclusion, from the above, it is not totally clear about the period of time you can retain data, but you need to have a Data Retention Policy, ensure the relevant people in your business know about it, and also have the relevant processes and documentation in place to show destruction of data.

You will also need to consider the purpose of the information that you hold. Securely delete information that is no longer needed and update, archive or securely delete information that goes out of date.

Find out more information about data retention from the ICO:

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