Every business stores personal data, no matter how large or small. You will very quickly acquire a database of customer details, employee details, as well as contacts and supplier details. All this information needs to be protected in order to meet data protection laws and regulations. Personal data can often be of a sensitive nature and has the potential to be used in a discriminatory way. As a small business it is your responsibility to be vigilant in adhering to data protection laws. If a data breach occurs, it can be extremely damaging to the future viability of your business. A huge amount of trust could also be potentially lost by your target market.
What is data protection?
Data that is protected includes names, addresses, contact information, health records, credit history and criminal records. Data protection is the legal control of access to and use of personal data stored on a computer. Data protection also includes the storage of information in the more traditional way of files and paperwork. As a business owner it is imperative to follow data protection procedures if your business stores information in any of these ways. The laws vary, depending on where in the world you live, so ensure your knowledge is current and up to date in your locality. The laws apply whether you are a sole trader or large ltd company.
How do i apply the laws as a small business owner?
When collecting data from individuals you must communicate to them what your nature of business is, how the information will be used and allow the individual to correct any mistakes in the information you gather from them. The information you store must be accurate. The information you have acquired must then be stored in a safe and secure manner. If the information is going to be shared with other business owners, the person must be informed.
It is important not to gather irrelevant information and it should be suitable for the purpose intended. Extra security measures should be taken if the information is of a sensitive nature such as health care records, ethnicity, sexual orientation and criminal records.
All data must be stored securely and it is essential to have current and up to date cyber security installed on IT systems. Installing high tech software may be costly, however a security breach could cause a huge amount of damage to your business. If funding is an issue consider applying for a business loan to cover the cost such as a same day business loan. This will allow you to ensure your data is stored as securely as possible.
Ensure data is only stored for a specified timescale, following which, all information should be deleted or shredded in a secure manner.
To prove how your business adheres to data protection laws, consider writing policies that state how the information is protected and stored. Policies will be useful for employees to refer to as well as yourself.
To avoid a breach in data protection it is important to ensure all systems relating to data protection are up to date, staff are trained on protecting data, information is disposed of correctly and the gathering of information is carried out informatively and is relevant to the purpose intended..