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What Is a Data Processor?

When it comes to compliance, everyone has heard about data processors. But what exactly do these key figures do?
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What is a Data Processor?

Under the GDPR, there are two main identifications for the roles under the law. These include the Data Controller and the Data Processor. Both roles are very important in the grand scheme of staying compliant– but few understand exactly what it is that the data processor does.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at what exactly a data processor does, who falls into that category, the duties they perform, how they work, and the role they place in GDPR compliance.

What is a Data Processor?

Any data that the data controller provides to the data processor is simply processed by them. Frequently, a data processor is an outside business that the data controller chooses to work with to process the data. The third-party data processor neither controls nor is the owner of the data that they process. In other words, the data processor won't be able to alter the usage of the data or the manner by which it is utilized. In addition, the directives supplied by the data controller are binding on the data processors.

What Entities Are Considered Data Processors?

What constitutes a data processor is not always clear-cut. Law offices, medical facilities, and accounting organizations are examples of common data processors. As a general rule, an organization is a data processor if it is required to comply with data and privacy orders and instructions. A processor must keep track of all data processing actions. Organizations on the processing side may also keep or trash data depending on the agreement made with the Data Controller.

The primary change brought about by GDPR is the enumeration of processors' responsibilities within GDPR's laws and regulations, which may now be rigorously enforced.

The Duties of a Data Processor

There are a number of obligations and standards that your company must meet if it is deemed a data processor under the GDPR:

  • Enter into a contract (DPIA) with the data controller. This agreement must specify the scope, length, type, and objectives of the processing as well as the categories of personal data being processed, the categories of data subjects whose data is being processed, and the rights and obligations of the data controller.
  • Protect and safeguard data. To prevent data loss or a breach, you must take adequate security precautions. If a breach occurs, you are required to notify the data controller without undue delay.
  • Keep a log of every processing action you take. This serves as proof that you abide by the GDPR and your agreement and serves to safeguard your company in the event that any legal problems develop.
  • Handle all processing tasks in-house. By imposing this limitation, the possibility of any personal data being exploited or treated incorrectly by a third party is to be reduced to a minimum. However, if you do decide to work with a sub-processor, you may only do so after informing the data controller and obtaining their approval through a different written contract.

The GDPR also mandates that data processors carry out a number of additional tasks to safeguard personal data. Implementing sufficient organizational and technical safeguards to provide an adequate degree of security is one of these additional jobs (under Article 32). It must also help the controller carry out data protection impact analyses and respond to requests for access from data subjects.

What is a DPIA?

The people whose data your company is processing run risks when it gathers, keeps, or utilizes that data. These dangers can include people becoming concerned that your company would use their personal information for purposes they don't understand, such as identity theft or unintentional data releases that allow criminals to appear as them.

This is exactly why Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs)  are required as a procedure for pinpointing and reducing risks involved with the processing of personal data. DPIAs are crucial instruments for reducing risk and proving GDPR compliance.

DPIA drafting is one of the most important tasks that a data processor is responsible for, though data protection officers and legal advisors should be involved as well.

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Other Important Facts About Data Processors

A contract or other legal act must regulate the processing for a data controller to be able to instruct a processor to treat personal data lawfully. A number of specified elements must be met by the agreement, including stating the nature and length of the processing, its subject matter and duration, the types of personal data involved, the categories of data subjects, and the duties and rights of the controller.

Regarding the precise personal data they are handling in accordance with the controller's instructions, a third-party data processor is not the controller. In other words, a business that serves as a third-party data processor for an organization may also act as a controller of personal information it has collected independently of any data it has obtained from the organization as a result of the organization's use of the company's data processing services. Instead of one company acting as the controller and the other the processor, if two businesses are jointly making decisions about the processing of personal data, they may be regarded as joint controllers under Article 26 of the GDPR.

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