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What is Data Protection By Design

Responsibilities of Data Controllers

Data protection by design, also known as privacy by design, is a concept and approach to developing and implementing systems, products, and services with privacy and data protection considerations integrated from the very beginning. This is a fundamental principle of  the EU & UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The goal of data protection by design is to ensure that privacy and data protection are built into the design and development process from the outset. 

Once upon a time under the 1998 Data Protection Act, this concept was considered as a directive and was therefore supported by the ICO since it helped organisations to fulfil their data protection obligations, however, it is now a legal requirement for all data controllers to abide by.


1. Helps to avoid treating  data protection as an afterthought or a tick-boxing exercise that must be ticked off to stay compliant. 

2.  Instills a proactive culture in the organisation's approach to managing data processing risks.

3. Builds trust with customers, boosts business reputation and reduces the risk of data breaches and regulatory penalties.

4. Positions firms to better protect the privacy and data rights of individuals while also staying compliant with relevant data protection regulations.

Key Principles of GDPR

The following principles are recommended for firms to achieve data protection by design.

Proactive Approach

Data protection by design promotes a proactive rather than reactive approach to privacy and data protection. It requires organizations to anticipate and address privacy risks before they occur. This may help organisations to be conversant with Codes of Conducts within their industries, which is one of the key things the ICO may look at during data breaches.

Privacy as the Default Setting

Systems and services should be configured to provide the highest level of privacy by default. Users should not have to take extra steps to protect their data; instead, they should be given choices to enhance their privacy if they wish.

Minimization of Data

 Collect and process only the data that is necessary for the specific purpose for which it was collected. Avoid collecting excessive or irrelevant information.


Put the interests and preferences of data subjects (individuals whose data is being processed) at the forefront of design decisions. Empower individuals to have control over their personal data.


Ensure that individuals are informed about how their data is being collected, processed, and used. Make privacy policies and practices clear and understandable.

Security Measures

 Implement robust security measures to protect data throughout its lifecycle. Encryption, access controls, and data breach response plans are essential components.

Data Lifecycle Management

Consider data protection throughout the entire lifecycle of data, including data collection, storage, processing, sharing, and disposal.


Organizations should be accountable for their data protection practices. This includes having clear policies, appointing a Data Protection Officer (DPO), conducting privacy impact assessments, and regularly auditing and assessing compliance.

Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs)

Conduct DPIAs to identify and mitigate potential privacy risks associated with new projects, technologies, or processes.

Continuous Improvement

Data protection by design is an ongoing process. Organizations should continuously monitor and improve their privacy practices as technology and risks evolve.

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