data privacy as a service

There is a lot of *aaS-es in the world of cloud-based computing.

No, no. 

That’s not what we meant.

We’re talking about Xas-a-service options.

First, there was SaaS, or Software as a Service. Originating in the 1960s as terminal keyboards networked to a mainframe computer in a hub-and-spoke system, SaaS has been in continuous evolution as personal computers became less expensive and more popular. Businesses needed a way to preserve hard drive and server space while simultaneously making huge amounts of data and complex programs universally accessible to employees.

The rise of cloud-based computing meant SaaS became the norm for, well, everything. Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) evolved to allow for new application design capabilities and meet the demand for virtual data centers.

But SaaS and PaaS aren’t the only players here. 

The rush of eCommerce, social media, and digital marketing, advertising, communications in the 2000s and 2010s was transformative for our work and personal lives. We connected, communicated, and consumed in totally new ways, all of which generated massive amounts of data—without much oversight. 

It was a bit exhilarating for those who love working with data. But it was a lot concerning for those whose minds were on the privacy implications for all that data. 

Enter privacy regulations. 

These unregulated information collection and sale practices came to a screeching halt in 2016 when the European Union passed the General Data Protection Regulation, the world’s first comprehensive data privacy law. 

The GDPR dramatically changed how businesses obtain consent to collect and process user information, leading governments around the world to follow suit and pass data privacy laws of their own. 

In the United States, the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, was the first digital privacy law enacted to protect American consumers. Colorado and Virginia have passed similar laws, and numerous states have bills ready for the 2022 legislative session. These laws have been led, in part, by vigorous consumer privacy advocates, who have pushed for greater privacy protections and greater transparency from businesses. 

This seismic shift in how we view digital privacy, combined with new obligations for website owners, has created a new kind of *aaS—data privacy as a service, or DPaaS.

And businesses are working hard to catch up with both privacy laws and consumer expectations. 

What is DPaaS?

By definition, DPaaS is the outsourcing of a business’s privacy functions. 

So DPaaS helps with “privacy”…but what does that mean? 

It means a lot of things. Keeping your data collection practices in a state of ongoing compliance. Tracking your risk assessment across internal teams, external partners, and third-party vendors to reduce risks of data breaches. Helping scale privacy processes. 

DPaaS technology can utilize SaaS and PaaS solutions that:

  • Launch privacy notices at the right time
  • Manage cookie notification and consent processes
  • Identify cybersecurity risks
  • Assist in fulfilling data subject access requests (DSARs) or individual rights requests
  • Automate notifications and containment measures after a breach is detected
  • Enable compliance with multiple regulations across regional jurisdictions
  • Provide data backup, storage, or disaster-recovery services

Non-tech DPaaS solutions, on the other hand, can come through fractional privacy officers who provide experienced guidance on things like data inventories, vendor management, risk assessments, employee training, and overall privacy strategy. 

FPOs don’t just help with the meat-and-potatoes of privacy practices, though—they help you figure out how to implement DPaaS tech in a way that’s effective and sustainable for your company.

DPaaS vs. cybersecurity

We can’t get too much further in the DPaaS discussion without pointing out the differences between DPaaS solutions and cybersecurity measures.

Data privacy and data protection are a chicken and egg situation. They’re closely related, and you can’t have one without the other, but they aren’t the same thing.

Where data protection/cybersecurity is all about protecting data from unauthorized users, data privacy focuses on figuring out who can access data, when they can access it, and what they can do with it. 

Think of it this way:

  • Cybersecurity (aka data protection) stops a hacker or unauthorized user from getting access to a user’s personal information.
  • Data privacy is about how a business collects, uses, or shares an individual’s personal information, as well as how a business communicates its policies and the choices it makes available to customers.  

A good cybersecurity program will be built around privacy obligations (i.e. least access privilege, network policies, etc.), but a good privacy program will also strengthen cybersecurity measures.

DPaaS for consumers

While privacy compliance is driving the development of  DPaaS right now, this increased focus on protecting privacy on an individual level is leading to the creation of privacy management apps and products for consumers. 

Crunchbase says that at least 207 privacy startups have raised over $3.5B in funding, and many of these companies are determined to make it easier for normal people to navigate the internet’s complex privacy landscape.

Some of these up-and-coming products let users figure out which businesses have collected and stored their sensitive personal information, while others help people track how businesses are using data they’ve willingly shared. 

No matter what the tool does, there’s no question that consumers are becoming exponentially more privacy-savvy. That savvy, combined with consumers’ increased expectations for personal control of their own information, gives businesses plenty of non-compliance reasons to get their privacy ducks in a row.

Benefits of DPaaS for benefits

Getting ahead of privacy is important. We’ve said it before—and we’ll definitely say it again. But there are lots of ways to build a privacy-first mindset in your business. Why should you consider DPaaS?

Decrease the risk of data breaches 

This reason, let’s be honest, is an important one for businesses. Data breaches are a problem. Data breaches in 2021 topped the already-record-breaking year of 2020—by 17%—and the year's not quite done yet. 

DPaaS solutions can identify and contain risks and reduce some of the human error that inevitably occurs, well, in any task that’s handled by people. 

Privacy improves your brand value—and customer relationships

Taking a transparent, consumer-friendly stand on privacy builds trust with your customers. When you make a clear, unambiguous commitment to protecting your customers' personal information and then take action to make that commitment real, your customers will trust you over competitors. Now, you can do this without DPaaS services…but….

DPaaS streamlines your privacy practices

Privacy operations can get pretty unwieldy. 

But with the right tools? You can build better—more up-to-date, actionable—data collections. You can automate privacy functions. You can manage data privacy requests from customers with ease. You can scale your operations smoothly.  

At least that’s the goal!

Is DPaaS right for you?

DPaaS, in theory, can help bridge the gap between where you want to be, privacy-wise, and where you are currently. 

According to IAPP, the world’s largest and most comprehensive privacy community, there has been a 17% increase in the number of companies exclusively dealing in enterprise privacy tech solutions.

But just because privacy solutions are technically available doesn’t mean that all businesses have the resources to implement them. DPaaS tools require knowledge of how privacy regulations work. 

What we’re really saying is that privacy solutions don’t necessarily equate to answers. In fact, products on their own are just one factor in the equation. The other factor is how you use them—or who you have to use them. 

Isn’t it ironic: Privacy is a team activity

Privacy expertise can be costly. It can be time-consuming to try to wrap your head around the newest privacy laws, only to have regulations shift on you at the last minute. (Yes, we’re looking at you, CCPA/CPRA!) 

But here’s the thing: when you incorporate DPaaS tech solutions with someone like a fractional privacy officer—the type of person who lives, eats, and breathes data privacy—you can get great results without spending hours trying to translate your jargon-filled privacy policy into something readable or deciphering the data inventory that your erstwhile head of legal wrote for your business. 

If you need help designing a compliant, consumer-friendly privacy program for your company, let us show you what Red Clover Advisors can do.