GDPR Data Flow Mapping

Data flow mapping under the EU GDPR

To comply with the EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), organisations need to map their data flows to assess privacy risks.

Data flow maps form part of your Article 30 documentation. They are also an essential first step in completing a DPIA (data protection impact assessment).

The key elements of data mapping

To effectively map your data, you need to understand the information flow, describe it and identify its key elements.

Understand the information flow

An information flow is a transfer of information from one location to another, for example:

  • From inside to outside the European Economic Area; or
  • From suppliers and sub-suppliers to customers.

Describe the information flow

  • Walk through the information lifecycle to identify unforeseen or unintended uses of data. This also helps to minimise the data that is collected.
  • Identify the lawful basis and purpose for collecting data.
  • Make sure the people who will be using the information are consulted on the practical implications.
  • Consider the potential future uses of the information collected, even if it is not immediately necessary.

Identify its key elements

  • Data items

    What kind of data is being processed (name, email, address, etc.) and what category does it fall into (health data, criminal records, location data, etc.)?
  • Formats

    In what format do you store data (hardcopy, digital, database, bring your own device, mobile phones, etc.)?
  • Transfer method

    How do you collect data (post, telephone, social media) and how do you share it internally (within your organisation) and externally (with third parties)?
  • Location

    What locations are involved within the data flow (offices, the Cloud, third parties, etc.)?
  • Accountability

    Who is accountable for the personal data? Often this changes as the data moves throughout the organisation.
  • Access

    Who has access to the data in question?

Conducting a Data Flow Mapping Exercise Under the GDPR

Want to know more about data flow mapping under the GDPR?

Data flow mapping is a key step to complete once an organisation has carried out its overall gap analysis.

Download this informative guide to Conducting a Data Flow Mapping Exercise under the GDPR to discover why data flow mapping is so important.

Download now

The key challenges of data mapping

Identifying personal data

Personal data can reside in a number of locations and be stored in a variety of formats, such as paper, electronic and audio. Your first challenge is deciding what information you need to record and in what format. Completing a data map will aid in identifying duplicated information.

Putting in place “appropriate technical and organisational measures”

The second challenge is likely to be identifying and implementing appropriate measures – covering technology, policies and procedures, and staff training – to protect information while also determining who controls access to it.

Identifying the purpose and legal basis of the processing

Your final challenge is determining your legal basis and purpose for each processing activity. Both can change as your processing activity changes and you need to ensure you take into account legal and contractual obligations in addition to the GDPR, for example, the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) and ISO 27001 (the information security standard).

Once you’ve completed these three challenges, you’ll be in a position to move forward, gaining the trust and confidence of your customers and other key stakeholders.

Webinar | Conducting a data flow mapping exercise under the GDPR

Watch our webinar below to find out more about conducting a data flow mapping under the GDPR.

To help organisations understand what a data flow mapping exercise involves, this webinar will discuss: 

  • The GDPR remedies, liabilities and penalties; 
  • Data flows and identifying the key elements; 
  • The benefits of conducting a data mapping exercise; 
  • The challenges of data mapping; and 
  • Techniques and best practices for data flow mapping.

Read more about what the Data Flow Mapping Tool has to offer.

Map your data and become GDPR compliant with IT Governance

We have a selection of tools and software that can support your organisations GDPR compliance, no matter how far along you are in your project.

To gain full visibility over the flow of personal data through your organisation and meet the requirement to maintain a record of processing activities under Article 30 of the GDPR, we recommend the Data Flow Mapping Tool.

This tool simplifies the process of creating data flow maps, giving you a thorough understanding of what personal data your organisation processes and why, where it is held and how it is transferred. The Data Flow Mapping Tool is a Cloud-based application, licensed for up to five users and can be accessed via any compatible browser.

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