All you need to know about GDPR and data privacy

 In Guest blog

With the requirements under the GDPR for businesses to account for customer and user data protection, this includes the protection of their biometric data. This guide discusses biometric data and how your business can ensure its compliance with the GDPR in how it stores and protects users’ biometric data. 


What is Biometric Data?

Biometric data is used to describe computer data that has been created using a biometric process. By this, it means using a human characteristic, for example, fingerprints, facial patterns or voices. Biometric data can enable the authentication of an individual due to each individual possessing different biometric characteristics. In recent years, biometric data has been used as a means to unlock certain systems such as your phone with your fingerprint and, now, your facial pattern.


Biometric Data and Privacy: What the Law Says

While there is no specific law that yes addresses biometric data solely, the GDPR covers this type of data in detail. Under this regulation, it is now required that businesses and organisations who collect biometric data keep it secure and inaccessible to malicious users. If biometric information is released, it could place a permanent risk to the individual as well as causing legal problems for the company that loses this data.


Biometric Data and The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Within the EY, the GDPR establishes rights that your customers retain. In general, it requires companies to have systems and practices in place to protect the personal data of customers and store this securely. Failure to comply with these new rules can see you hit with a serious fine. Biometric data is covered under the "special categories of personal data" and is therefore subject to the same regulations as other personal data under the GDPR. Because of the highly sensitive nature of biometric data, if companies do not attempt to secure this data well, it could see you with a fine of up to 4% of your annual turnover.


Processing Biometric Data

While the use of biometric data offers a creative tool for user experience, the GDPR stresses the need to be cautious in how you implement and process users’ biometric data as well as maintaining a secure system for this sensitive data.


Companies previous may have processed biometric data more freely. However, it is now necessary that there is restricted processing over biometric data to ensure it is not being processed further than its original purpose. It is also now expected that one's biometric data is processed only by the original company and is not past on or processed by a third party unless otherwise consented to by the user prior to it being shared.


Main Objectives and Provisions of the GDPR

The Right to Be Forgotten

According to Betipy, under the GDPR, this refers to an individual being able to, at any point, have the information the company possesses about them to be erased. They reserve the right to, without any reason needed, be able to have their biometric data deleted from an organisation’s system.


Data Breach Must be Notified

If an unfortunate security breach occurs without your organisation, the GDPR requires you to notify, within 72 hours of becoming aware of the security breach, all the individuals whose biometric data may have been potentially affected in this breach.


A Global Law

While the GDPR is an EU established regulation, it has a global impact. Even if you are an organisation established outside of the EU, if you process the biometric data of individuals within the EU, you are required to follow the same regulations as companies within the EU.


Privacy by Design and by Default

The use of biometric data Is best limited, if possible, to being used only in relevant and necessary situations and should not be processed further than for the primary, original purposes.

Your company should aim to have in place security systems throughout the organisation to prevent security breaches and protect your customers' data. Especially due to the sensitivity of biometric data, you should consider a more sophisticated and more closely monitored system to keep biometric data protected.


With a Clear Focus of Biometric Data Privacy

Biometric data should be ensured to be stored securely and it should emphasise again as to the need to have such highly sensitive data to be managed with care to ensure its protection and security.


What does the GDPR Mean for Companies?

With the introduction of the GDPR, it places more responsibility on the company to process and handle personal data, including biometric data, in a highly secure fashion. It requires companies to be more transparent with their customers about how their biometric data is being used and how it is stored. The GDPR indicates a need for more close tracking of how data moves within the company to be able to report this information correctly to customers.


It may also lead to some companies questioning whether storing biometric data is really beneficial. While there are many positives for its use, the repercussions if not handled with care may, for some companies, outweigh the benefits. It is worth considering what data your data company holds for your customers and if it serves a beneficial purpose for your users and company.


For some companies, GDPR may see the introduction of Data Protection Officers; a job role that specifically focusses on the company's compliance with the GDPR and making sure that the company meets the expectations of the GDPR and is doing this in the best and most efficient way possible.


A company now holding any personal data is susceptible to scrutiny under the GDPR. However, with the highly sensitive nature of biometric data means that companies using this data need to be extra vigilant in storing this data and making sure they offer a trustworthy service to protect their users’ data.

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