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GDPR and how SaaS (Software as a service) businesses can become compliant with the GDPR - DataOlogie | When Data Matters | Data Protection | Data Management
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GDPR and how SaaS (Software as a service) businesses can become compliant with the GDPR

GDPR and how SaaS (Software as a service) businesses can become compliant with the GDPR

by | Oct 28, 2021 | Blog

GDPR and how SaaS (Software as a service) businesses can become compliant with the GDPR

On May 25, 2018, the European Union introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to ensure maximum data protection privileges for people across the European Union. Since then, GDPR has completely revolutionized data and the way it is handled, processed, and subsequently stored. GDPR encompasses industries of diverse domains and categories including the software segment. This also means that Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses need to adhere to the applicable GDPR restrictions.

But what exactly are the GDPR restrictions? How exactly do businesses achieve greater compliance with it? We will address these questions and more in the following few sections.

How Do You Make Your SaaS Business GDPR Compliant?

Now that you are aware of the preconditions, you might be wondering how to make your business GDPR compliant. Here are some more pointers to help you out.

Assign a DPO

SaaS businesses thrive on the processing of personal data and because of this you especially need a Data Protection Officer, who will ensure that your data and information is properly and effectively handled. They will also get your DPO registered with all local data protection agencies. In addition, they will also help businesses owners maintain a separate internal record that contains all information relating to the customer data processing required in their business.

Currently, companies are required to have a dedicated Data Protection officer if they qualify as a public authority, and if they monitor and/or process huge volumes of customer data.

Even though any employee of the organization can be assigned DPO, they still need to go through some initial vetting.

Implement a Cookie Policy and Update the Cookie Banner

To be a GDPR compliant SaaS business you need a detailed cookie policy that lists all existing active cookies on your web platform and their specific roles. You can either devise a strategy for this or utilize any existing automated app for the task.

In addition to implementing a proper cookie policy, you should also make sure the cookie banner on your website is updated. For the uninitiated, this is the pop-up that comes up every time you visit a website for the first time. It is designed to intimate the user about your company’s cookie policy. Make sure your website has an updated banner that the user can access and interact with.

Update Your Privacy Policy

Many SaaS businesses struggle to get GDPR compliance because their privacy policy is dated. To avoid this make sure your company’s Privacy Policy lists the kind of data you collect, how and why you collect the said data, and how long the data is stored on your portal. A current and updated privacy policy will also contain information relating to user rights and data sharing with third parties.

Maintain and Organize All Existing Data Flows

Every SaaS company has multiple data processing flows. However, to be GDPR compliant, you need to maintain and organize these flows. While the task may seem tedious, it is fairly simple and should only contain the following details:

  • Current and updated names of all divisions and sub-divisions in your organization
  • The type of customer/personal data that is handled by every division
  • The way the aforementioned data is processed
  • The individuals responsible for monitoring these processes

When you have the required information, curate them, and save them in a larger repository.

Compliance with additional vendors

If you are working or collaborating with third-party vendors, consult them to check their compliance with GDPR. In case the vendor isn’t GDPR compliant, you need to ensure that they achieve the same. In case the party you are working and collaborating with exhibits no genuine interest in collaborating with third parties, then as a SaaS business, you need to re-consider your prospect of working with the party. Ideally, you should not just ensure that your business is GDPR compliant, but also make sure that all third-party vendors you are collaborating or interacting with have the same compliance.

Data Processing Agreements

If you are a professional who performs data processing, you would need to sign specific agreements relating to data processing controllers. For the uninitiated, this is a legal contract entailing the specific roles and requirements of every individual client. In addition, it also needs to feature a descriptive SOP relating to the data safety standards one needs to ensure while the data is processed. Keeping these agreements in place will not just help improve GDPR compliance but will also help improve compliance with any third party you are working and interacting with.

Make sure all your third-party vendors and subsidiaries carry these data processing agreements. Additionally, your SaaS business should carry the same.

Technical Safety

In this day and age, cybersecurity attacks, breaches of data, and misappropriation of personal information are extremely common. Even the minutest error in judgment can lead to major and damaging repercussions. The solution? Secure your business and implement the highest standards of security for it.

Remember, upholding the security of your personal data isn’t just limited to the regulatory realm. When it comes to business, this practice is equally crucial. When you follow the appropriate practices for information security, your customers too have peace of mind knowing that their information and data are completely safe. As a SaaS business owner, many naturally assume that they already have the required safety standards because they are certified by ISO and also GDPR compliant. However, you should never take data security lightly and ensure stringent data protection standards for every type of customer information.

Organizational Safety

In addition to technical safety, you should also root and strive for organizational safety. This can be achieved by familiarizing all your employees with the preconditions of GDPR compliance. Share SOPs relating to the subject and make sure it reaches every silo of organization. You can also work on organizational training to drive more awareness on the subject.

So What’s the Gist?

Typically, to be a GDPR compliant SaaS business, you need to meet the following preconditions:

  • Do not collect excessive information, keep your requirements short, and share customer data only with required parties
  • If you are collecting user data, make sure you are fully transparent about the same. Explain what the data is needed for and adhere to your specified guidelines
  • Enable your customers to pick the data they are looking to share, retrieve the data, and modify it as and when needed. They should also have the flexibility for the permanent deletion of data.
  • Make sure the customer information is safe and during the event of a data breach, intimate the authorities immediately

Because the mentioned requirements are fairly simple, it should be easy for any existing SaaS business to adhere to them. If you respect your user and their data privacy, you will want to ensure the above guidelines while processing and handling customer data.

For others, the EU has also come up with an extra incentive. In case you fail to adhere to the guidelines, you are likely to face a fine of 20 million Euros. Alternatively, you might be fined 4% of your global profits if it is higher than the mentioned sum.

Bottom Line

If you process customer data or handle it in some way, it is crucial to ensure and adhere to GDPR compliance. Remember, because SaaS is still a growing domain, its relation with GDPR is only complicated. You’re probably familiar with Google’s failure to adhere to these restrictions that resulted in a $55 million lawsuit.

In case you do not want to face the same plight or financial issues, it is important to follow the right steps so that your business is fully compliant with the regulations and guidelines entailed in the GDPR. Since we have already listed the important bits, we are certain you will have an easier time navigating through GDPR compliance.

Want more information on GDPR compliance for your SaaS? See more on our website.


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