data protection

This article is written by Advocate Navya Prathipati and edited by Vanshika Kapoor (Senior Managing Editor, Blog iPleaders). This article will cover all the details regarding data protection and privacy, career opportunities in the area, skills required, certification courses, and many FAQs that every law enthusiast must know about data protection and privacy.   

Introduction

The importance of data protection cannot be emphasised enough in this era of digitisation. ‘Data’, ‘Privacy’, and ‘Security’ continue to be the buzzwords of today’s decade, and their significance continues to grow. As per the research report of the University of Maryland, the rate of computer hacks is once in every 39 seconds. Businesses that function without data are considered to be handicapped. Businesses that thrive on information seek ways to protect and secure the data as today’s customers are conscious of securing their personal and sensitive information during every transaction. According to the research data available, 63% of internet users believe that most companies are not transparent, and 48% stopped shopping due to privacy concerns. All these situations display the growing significance of data protection and privacy. The majority of businesses today make decisions and prepare business models that revolve around and are based on ‘data’. Similarly, almost every individual relies on electronic devices to complete their daily chores, from online yoga to online doctor appointments, grocery shopping, shopping, paying bills, etc. Everything is performed online. In the process, a huge amount of individuals’ personal and sensitive information is stored online. In this way, the increase of digital footprints in both personal and professional spheres demands the infrastructure to protect the data through cyber security and privacy measures. 

When it comes to the market, almost every industry is technologically driven, from shipping, retail and wholesale markets, health and pharmaceutical industries to government schemes and facilities. Everything is being digitised, and every transaction and activity that takes place physically is becoming online. All the data is recorded, stored and restored in artificial form. New forms of technological innovations are invented such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain technology and other amazing by-products which are fascinating and productive. However, there is an increasing suspicion and criticism towards technologies like AI due to the apprehension that it might replace human manpower in employment. While many argue that the latest technologies will replace humans by decreasing employment opportunities, others believe that the total replacement of humans is impossible. It is believed that human element and humans are required to regulate the technologies. Hence, there are career opportunities in the regulation of technologies which follow technological advancement. Continue reading to know what is in store for you on the topic of data protection and privacy. In this article, we will not only dwell on discussions or debates about AI or blockchain but also talk about one positive aspect,i.e., the career opportunities in law and other similar roles related to the technological side. Read the article completely to get the right understanding. 

About data protection and privacy – a brief overview 

‘Data Protection’ and ‘Data Privacy’ are two different terms often used interchangeably. It is important for readers to understand the difference between the terms and recognise the meaning and purposes of each term. 

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What is data protection 

The term ‘Data protection’ can be defined as the process of safeguarding significant information against loss, corruption, and compromise. It refers to the legal control over access to data. The main purpose is to protect the data from any kind of security breach or unauthorised access to data to gain an undue advantage. It also includes protection against the loss of data. There is a growing importance of data protection as vast amounts of data has accumulated over the years. A data protection strategy must be formulated without compromising privacy rights for data protection purposes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

What is data privacy 

The term ‘Data privacy’ can be defined as the ability of an individual to protect or control their own personal information. In addition to personal data, it also includes confidential data such as intellectual property data and financial data. Data privacy is also called information security. Data privacy relates to the access of information to personnel. Data privacy rights determine who has access to the data and how to regulate it. The protection of the privacy of individuals is the main task of the current technology industry. Both the personal and sensitive data of the users being stored online should also be protected. The personal identifiable data such as date of birth, passport number which identifies or traces back to an individual should be monitored and controlled carefully. 

Importance of data protection and privacy 

In the 21st century, some of the biggest reported data breaches occurred at some renowned companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, My Fitness Pal and Marriott International. Due to the unfortunate incidents of cyberattacks, the reputation of all these companies was at stake. Today, notwithstanding the size and type of organisation, there is a rampant increase in cyber-attacks whose cost is expected to be $10 trillion by 2025. As a result, there is an increasing need for cyber security. 

Without data, the majority of businesses could not work appropriately. Only with the help of data can the business strategy be prepared for various aspects such as marketing strategies, productivity rate, revenue sources, and others. While the significance of data for businesses cannot be emphasised enough, the management of such data is equally important. Because the cost of misuse or breach of data is higher than its benefits. As per the research data, around 500,000 online platforms were hacked in the year 2020 alone, and 30,000 websites were breached across the globe. This way, the cost of breaches is ever-increasing. As a result, data privacy laws are being enacted by countries worldwide to promote cybersecurity and reduce data breaches and misuse of data. In addition to that, to protect the individual’s privacy, and the data of employees, customers, and all the stakeholders, certain frameworks are also being introduced. This way, data privacy and protection have become crucial aspects of discussion across the globe. It has been given priority by all companies, governments, markets and individuals. This also led to an increase in job opportunities in the areas of data protection and privacy law.  

In this way, data protection and privacy would help resolve the issues of cyber threats and crimes in both business, professional and personal spheres. 

Regulatory framework 

It is challenging to draft an accurate law for a dynamic discipline like data protection and privacy  which correlates to the digital sphere and technology and evolves or gets updated every year. The European Union (EU) is one of the first few countries to formulate a comprehensive law on data privacy and protection. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), 2016 is the European data protection law. It became effective from the year 2018. GDPR is known as the “toughest security and privacy law in the world” due to its strict provisions on data processing and privacy regulations. There are also strict penalties imposed for violations of the law. The Digital Personal Data Protection Act of 2023, passed in India, follows the model of GDPR. 

The United States follows a laissez-faire approach in which privacy by the intrusion of the state is emphasised. Initially, there were no strict regulations imposed on the private sector in the country to facilitate commercial and business transactions. Though there is no common federal law, each state has its own data privacy laws.  Incidents such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Equifax Data breach raised serious concerns about data privacy, which later led to imposition of strict laws to punish companies. Nonetheless, the state is still reluctant to adopt the GDPR and work on its framework. Recently, California came up with a Consumer Privacy Law which was based on the core principles of GDPR, and stringent punishments were imposed for non-compliance by companies. It is the first state in the US that follows EU law with stringent punishments. The European Union’s GDPR that came into effect in the year 2018 gives priority to the protection of individual rights against both the state and private sector, which is applicable to all states of the EU and followed by many countries, including India. China considers data protection for national security and has many stringent laws on cybersecurity. It tops the list of  surveillance by the states. In China, the state has control over the data of all agencies and companies. The recent ban on TikTok in India is a response to China’s stringent surveillance.

In Australia, data privacy and protection are regulated through the Federal Privacy Act, 1988, Australian Privacy Principles (APP) and state & federal laws. The provisions which can be highlighted are: The Act applies to all entities including the Commonwealth Government. For the collection & processing of data, there are clear criteria laid down to utilise the collected data for reasonable purposes. A provision for security measures which must be taken care of by the data fiduciaries is also included. The law covers all aspects, from online privacy , and electronic marketing to cybersecurity, in addition to the data protection measures as per data privacy principles formulated by the state. The act also defines terms such as ‘significant harm’ and ‘carry on trade or businesses on which DPB was ambiguous. Greece ranked first in the Privacy Index and gave an exemption to the government for purposes of criminal investigations.

In Iceland, the Privacy and Processing of Personal Data Act and GDPR are implemented for purposes of data protection and privacy. The DPA is responsible for creating awareness and knowledge about data protection, the risks associated with it, and their safeguards, which aid in the implementation of the Act. These kinds of steps must be taken in India. Similarly, countries across the globe are legislating data protection and privacy. 

Skills required for a career in data protection and privacy laws  

Skills are the backbone of any profession. To achieve success in a particular field, industry, or profession, it is crucial to identify and nurture the skills required for that particular profession. In this section of the article, an attempt is made to mention the skills required in the data privacy and protection field. They are as follows: 

Analytical skills 

This is the foremost and an essential skill. Analytical skills help to bifurcate a large amount of information into smaller groups to arrive at an informed conclusion. Similarly, a data privacy professional needs to observe the patterns and trends of data with the help of analytical skills. With the help of analytical skills, the necessary insights concerning data can be obtained. Analytical thinking in relation to decision-making skills, problem-solving or logical reasoning will result in drawing solutions for data security and protection. It also helps to understand the data lifecycle, storage, sources, risks, and measures. 

Communication skills 

This is a basic skill required for all professions. Communication skills help to convey things appropriately. A proper communication can prevent problems, whereas a gap in communication leads to critical problems. Data privacy and protection is a dynamic subject which contains a lot of technical stuff in addition to theoretical knowledge. Hence, data privacy or protection professionals should be able to absorb diverse information and communicate effectively. All the rules and regulations should be explained thoroughly to a diverse set of people( both stakeholders and non-stakeholders). 

Data governance 

Data governance means framing and implementing the standards, policies, and procedures for a company concerning data security and privacy. All the set standards should be in line with the prevalent legal rules and regulations and should be updated whenever there are amendments. Hence, data governance is another skill that one should be equipped with. It is an important skill to ensure data confidentiality. Through data governance, audits and compliance with the laws can be maintained. 

Data ethics

It is similar to that of professional ethics prevalent in all industries. Today, data has become more vulnerable and exploited. Any innovation or use of data should be made in compliance with the principles and standards. It is one of the critical skills. Data collection, processing and utilisation must comply with data ethics. Following ethics increases trust, responsibility and reputation. The privacy rights and consent provisions of the stakeholders involved should be taken into consideration. 

Legal and regulatory knowledge 

This is a necessity to excel in any particular field. Data privacy and protection is common for all industries and fields. Hence, a data privacy professional needs to deal with different categories of companies such as pharmaceuticals, IT companies, etc. Therefore, having sound knowledge of the privacy laws, such as GDPR, California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), etc. of different countries, their history and the future trajectory of the field is crucial. Knowledge of evolving privacy standards and compliance requirements is must. A good understanding of these laws promotes clarity of thought, which further leads to effective actions and decisions. In addition to the theoretical knowledge of principles, rules and regulations, basic skills in data security would benefit in numerous ways. For example: Data Anonymization – Anonymization is one of the techniques used to protect the identity of individuals for the protection of privacy. Other techniques, such as hashing and masking, can be used to reduce the sensitivity of data. The main aim is to protect the identity of individuals for data privacy, liability and appropriate usage of data with the help of legal and regulatory framework. 

Project management 

Project management is another important skill that should be possessed by data privacy professionals. Project management is a trait and a competency that a professional requires in order to effectively coordinate, start, and finish a project. Hence, project management skills are essential to initiate, plan, execute and finish a project. With the help of these skills, a project manager leads the team members in working towards a common objective.  Some of the project management skills include leadership,  time management, communication, risk management, problem solving and others. Prior experience in project management and working with cross-sectional teams improves management skills. The hidden talent of a good project manager lies in getting things done within the given time frame. Therefore, in addition to data governance skills, as explained above, management skills would be an added advantage. 

Cybersecurity awareness

Individuals who aspire to become data privacy professionals are expected to have knowledge on cybersecurity principles and best practices. Data privacy and protection is a technical subject as it is related to technology. Professionals from non-technical fields should take note of these skills of cyber awareness. Without the technical knowledge, the work becomes tough. Therefore,  understanding the system and process of encryption, firewalls, and other security measures is crucial.  

These are some of the skills that must be mastered by data privacy and protection professionals over time. In addition to the above, there are many other skills on the list; to read more, proceed to the FAQs attached at the end of the article. 

Data protection and privacy in India 

Data protection and privacy have been a cause of concern in India. Today’s businesses thrive on data to improve the customer experience and understand customers’ behaviour. It is also used to influence buyers’ thoughts and purchase experiences. In this ecosystem, the protection of data against corruption, breaches or loss has become a top priority and is a crucial task. After the launch of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in 2018 and other data privacy laws, it became mandatory for companies across the globe to abide by the same. Companies must comply with privacy and data protection laws on a priority basis. All this led to the creation of job opportunities in the field of data privacy and protection. Today, it is a specialised field focusing on growth and development.  The roles in this area are equally challenging and rewarding. 

In India, the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act, 2023, was passed recently after years of deliberation. The law’s main purpose is to entrust and implement privacy rights, along with the appropriate use of data. The enactment is a gateway to the fields of information technology and data privacy in India. Lawyers who have been hanging around the Information & Technology Act, 2000, its rules and circulars for the protection of privacy, and cybersecurity can tap into this field to encash the opportunities. Lawyers have an ample chance to get into this field and become advisors of the DPDP 2023 Act by guiding businesses and organisations on the compliance of the enactment. The DPDP 2023 will boost data protection and privacy in India. 

How to become a data privacy professional 

This is the first question that ponders the minds of the students and graduates after going through the article. In this section, the query will be answered briefly. Data privacy and profession is a niche field, and hence the path to becoming a data privacy professional requires a lot of effort. One can become a data privacy professional by following the steps as follows: 

  • A basic degree from a recognised college or university in the field of law, computer science or any information technology-related area is a must. Degree is essential because only through the degree can one gain a strong foundation on the legal and technical aspects of data privacy.
  • After completing the degree, one can apply for job opportunities in the fields related to data privacy and protection to gain hands-on- experience. As the field is evolving, one should try to gain experience through various means, like internships, volunteering or taking on projects concerning privacy. One can also try for entry-level jobs to gain experience. To learn more about entry-level jobs, refer to the FAQs. 
  • Doing certificate courses, diplomas or any courses on privacy and data protection will demonstrate the candidates’ interest in the field and would aid in the job market. It will also enhance the knowledge of the subject. We at Lawsikho have designed courses considering the demands of the specialisation. To learn more about the relevant courses, click here. 
  • One should stay updated on the recent developments and news on privacy-related aspects. One can attend conferences, seminars and workshops on privacy and data protection to improve the understanding of the subject’s concepts. Staying up-to-date on the issues and latest developments in the area would make one stand out in the job market. Hence, focusing on this aspect is equally crucial. 
  • Last but not least, is networking. Networking helps to learn, identify opportunities and build professional relationships. One should start networking by attending events or joining professional organisations to explore and learn. Networking opens doors for numerous opportunities. Hence, networking is the key. 

Certifications available on the subject of data privacy and protection 

Certification increases knowledge and adds an advantage in the job market. To build a career in data security and privacy, several internationally accredited certifications are available for both students and professionals. It helps to specialise in the field and to understand how businesses can ensure compliance with data privacy laws and solutions concerning data privacy. Both businesses and individual data privacy professionals can obtain the certifications. Some of the well-known certifications are given in this section for reference. 

Certified Information Privacy Technologist (CIPT) 

Certified Information Privacy Technologist (CIPT) is offered by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (AIPP). The certification is designed to focus on technologists, IT professionals,  information security professionals and profiles responsible for the implementation of privacy with the assistance of technology systems. This course is useful for IT professionals who want to specialise in privacy as well as privacy professionals with a technical background. CIPT covers all aspects related to data privacy and protection. A test will be conducted to test the knowledge and skills concerning privacy technology.  

Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) 

CIPP certification is also offered by IAPP. The course is designed for data privacy professionals and those who work in the area of data protection. The course contains the privacy laws and practices adopted globally, which help individuals navigate through the bundle of privacy regulations. All the crucial aspects related to the subject are covered comprehensively. There are in total four versions of the CIPP course, i.e., CIPP for Asia, Europe, the United States, and Canada. The specific compliance requirements for each of these countries are included in the courses. 

Certified Information Privacy Management (CIPM) 

CIPM is also offered by IAPP. Professionals who are responsible for the management and implementation of data privacy policies can benefit from the CIPM Course. The course is designed to focus on the skills of effective privacy management, and privacy programme governance with the help of knowledge. The professionals or officers who are designated as privacy managers, privacy officers, legal experts and all others in charge of the management of data undertake the CIPM Course. Similar to other courses, one needs to pass the examination on privacy management principles to get the certificate. CIPM is one of the courses in other IAPP courses. 

PECB Certified Data Protection Officer (CDPO) 

As the name says, the PECB Certified Data Protection Officer course is specifically designed for data protection officers. All the necessary skills, knowledge, and competencies required for a data protection officer are included in the course. Individuals who are interested in becoming a data protection officer or are already working in the field are best suited for the course, as there is a mandatory five years of experience required to join the course. 

In order to get the certificate, candidates need to pass a test. The course also includes practical training. 

Certified in Data Protection (CDP) 

The CDP certification involves in-depth training on data protection. It includes all international standards and privacy laws concerning data protection measures. The entire data cycle is taught meticulously during the course. The CDP certification is provided by the Identity Management Institute, which focuses on international security standards and data protection laws. One can pursue the course by joining the Identity Management Institute (IMI). 

Similarly, there are and will be courses on data protection and security regimes. These courses offer in-depth knowledge on the subject, along with the added advantage in the job market.

Why should one choose a career in data protection and privacy laws 

The enactment of the data privacy laws and regulations makes it mandatory for companies and businesses to manage or regulate the information available (both personal and sensitive data) as per the rules and regulations. The growing trend of digitisation and the invention of new technologies have transformed a specialised career landscape. Today, data privacy and protection have emerged as a specialised field of study in all industries. Hence, it offers a promising career with stability, security and growth in the coming years. Some of the perks or benefits that the field offers are as follows: 

  • Career opportunity- It offers exciting career opportunities as there is constant growth with changing or evolving rules and regulations. Adding new elements to the field promises an exciting learning opportunity for professionals and growth. 
  • The job profile- The main task of the data professional is to secure and protect an organisation’s data. If done properly, the job makes a difference and leads to the welfare of the organisation and its beneficiaries, customers, etc. It will have a positive impact on society at large. 
  • Payscale– Today, data privacy and protection have emerged as a niche. Hence, in a specialised field, professionals are paid more in comparison to other fields. The earning potential is higher. 
  • Job security- After the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), many need to be more confident about their jobs, especially IT employees. However, data privacy is an emerging field that will flourish in the upcoming years. Currently, there is a demand for experts in the field. All these offer job security and stability. 

In addition to the above-mentioned benefits, it can be said that a career in this niche would provide a lot of job satisfaction. Imagine that today everyone is insecure about their personal information and sensitive information that has been stored online against cyber threats and breaches. Being a data privacy professional, the concerned officer assists the organisation in handling the data in a secure way against any breaches. It is quite a promising and satisfactory role, isn’t it? 

Challenges and opportunities 

As explained above, data privacy and protection are crucial. Some of the benefits of specialising in the field are also explained. Equally, there are certain challenges faced by professionals in this sector across the globe. Some of the challenges are as follows: 

  • Growth of data- There is an exponential increase in the growth of data due to the use of technology. The organisation or businesses collect both personal and sensitive information daily. As per the statistics, every second, 1.7 megabytes of data are being generated. Hence, it becomes difficult for organisations to manage such information. This is leading to the growth of data breaches where data has been lost or stolen. One of the reasons for such breaches is poor privacy and data protection measures. It becomes challenging to adopt robust data security practices to manage such huge amounts of data. However, an appropriate data strategy would help to deal with this challenge. 
  • Data privacy maintenance- Even though the costs of data breaches are higher than those of data protection or privacy maintenance, increasing costs of maintenance are a cause for concern and challenge. Digital infrastructure, data backup, archiving and other technologies are required to safeguard the data. 
  • Regulation and documentation- Almost every country enacted their own domestic legislations and several rules and regulations concerning data privacy and protection. Applying and complying with these new regulations is a challenge for data professionals. Staff training and collaboration of departments will help tackle the complexities easily within an organisation.

What kind of work is expected of a data privacy professional 

Data privacy professionals play a key role in any organisation. Despite the organisation in which one works, the role and kind of work undertaken by data professionals remain the same. The work of a data professional will be as follows and include the following: 

Policy development and implementation

Policy formulation is the first and foremost step. Though policies themselves do not solve the problems, they are pathways to an organisation’s efforts and also solutions. A good policy not only protects the system; it also protects the organisation as a whole and individual employees. A data privacy professional based in the organisation needs to formulate privacy policies and regulations. He/she must also make sure that they are implemented appropriately for the management of data.  

Data mapping and classification

Data mapping and classification provide a roadmap for the organisation’s data. Privacy and data management practices are required for every organisation to protect the privacy and personal information of consumers and other organisations. All these require a structured approach and data mapping provides a roadmap for data processing, collection, storage, and transfers. Data mapping and classification also help management make an informed decision. Data professionals play a key role in the mapping and classification of the data. A data professional is also responsible for the implementation of data mapping. 

Risk assessments and mitigation

A data privacy professional in an organisation has to conduct risk assessments and formulate mitigation safeguards. A checklist that is followed while conducting risk assessments is: 

  • A list of different types of personal information that organisations possess needs to be prepared. 
  • The data collection events for all kinds of data followed by the organisation need to be evaluated. 
  • Training the staff on data protection practices and procedures 
  • Identifying the regulatory frameworks concerning data protection and privacy
  • Documentation of all the data protection steps undertaken by the organisation. 

The data protection assessments would reduce the risk of data protection and privacy breaches of the sensitive data of an organisation. It is a kind of precautionary measure. 

Mitigation is part of the risk assessment process. During the risk assessment, if any potential risks for the rights of data subjects are identified, then the measures and mechanisms to protect the privacy of the data subjects should be outlined. Risk assessments and mitigation strategies are part and parcel of the data privacy and protection process. 

Compliance monitoring and reporting

This is a crucial part for all data privacy professionals. Enactments, rules, and regulations are framed to protect data and ensure the safety of privacy. Hence, there is an obligation on businesses and organisations to comply with the policies. A data privacy professional needs to identify the applicable framework and monitor compliance.  Compliance audits are conducted to better understand and evaluate the situation in compliance and reporting. The step-by-step process of a compliance audit is as follows: 

  • Formation of audit team: All expert professionals in the legal, privacy, and technical domains need to form a team to handle the planning, execution, and reporting of a compliance audit. 
  • Audit scope: Audit scope should be pre-determined. It helps to understand the programmes, activities, and departments that need to be assessed. 
  • Documentation: This is the first step towards the audit process. All data privacy policies, data protection practices, data retention policies, data flow maps and vendor contracts should be documented. Documentation helps to understand the organisation’s data handling procedure. 
  • Evaluation: All the company’s prevalent policies should be evaluated. 

Incident response and data breach management

This is a task that is not required daily but should be compulsorily learned by all data privacy professionals. A strategic and organised approach that was adopted to detect and manage cyber attacks with minimum costs, time and damage is known as incident response. Incident response is  part of data breach management. Data privacy professionals should be equipped with incident response plans and data breach management techniques to combat and prevent any kind of cyberattack or breach. Depending on the application, incident response and data breach management can be a preventive measure or a cure for cyber attacks. 

Employee training and awareness

Employees of an organisation or business play a key role in the management and safeguarding of data. It is the responsibility of a data privacy professional to conduct employee training and raise awareness concerning data protection and privacy. Before implementing employee training, a data privacy professional needs to analyse the situation of the organisation concerning compliance rules and regulations, risks and gaps. Reports from privacy audits should also be studied. All the privacy policies need to be verified within the legal framework. Employees’ knowledge of data protection and privacy should be evaluated to identify training needs. After the analysis, the goals and objectives of the training programme should be written down. Content and materials should be prepared for the training and awareness programme. The content should be prepared, taking into consideration the accessibility of the stakeholders. After all these steps, employee training and awareness programmes should be conducted. An outcome and evaluation of the programme should be conducted to improve the training programme. 

Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA)

The main purpose of PIA is to conform to the legal regulatory framework and policy requirements, identify potential threats, evaluate the effects and formulate mitigation strategies. PIA is a valuable tool to understand the ways data is used within an organisation. It also helps to understand how a new project would affect the organisation. Through PIA, gaps in the privacy department concerning data security, risk management and compliance are identified. Privacy professionals need to conduct PIA to effectively monitor the data security and privacy of an organisation. 

Vendor management 

In businesses, every day, a large amount of data flows to and from third-party vendors. The third-party vendors’ privacy and the information security policies concerning the access to and control of personal information should also be assessed. Keeping track of all vendors and assessing information is one of the challenges facing the organisation. Data protection laws such as GDPR mandate businesses to effectively monitor the data flowing in and out of the organisation, including third-party vendors. Data privacy professionals must keep track of all the vendors and points of information access. 

Documentation and record-keeping

Documentation and record-keeping help to identify the transactions easily. It creates, organises, and manages the organisation’s policies, practices, and procedures. The requirement for documentation and record keeping can be imposed by law, regulatory bodies, industry standards, or policy by the organisation itself. Whatever the cause or reason, the process would positively affect the organisation. A data privacy professional is involved in every crucial aspect of the business and has the responsibility of record-keeping and documenting every activity conducted within the organisation. 

Legal and regulatory liaison

The growth of technology led to the enactment of laws concerning data protection and privacy. As part of the DPDP and privacy legislations, regulatory compliance became a mandatory thing, and organisations,  businesses are held liable for any kind of violation. Data privacy professionals, especially data protection officers, need to monitor regulatory and legal compliance. These professionals need to conduct legal and regulatory liaisons to make sure everything is complied with and followed by the organisation.

Career opportunities in data protection and privacy laws  

The prospects of career opportunities in data privacy and data protection are progressing day by day. The future of this field is quite compromising. In this section, the employment options in this new field will be covered exhaustively. The main aim is to provide the readers with exhaustive information about the data privacy and data protection field and employment opportunities, which can be useful in making informed decisions for those who want to venture into new areas of employment. 

In-house role in data privacy 

Every company or business requires professionals to handle the data and advise on the latest trends on the subject. Therefore, data privacy professionals are hired in areas of data privacy and protection. 

Data privacy professionals

Data privacy professionals are those who gain expertise in or specialise in the area of data privacy. The main role of the data privacy professional is to protect the data( both personal and sensitive data) from illegal access and security breaches. Data privacy professionals assist companies or businesses in compliance with data privacy laws and ensure security by conducting risk assessments. Equipping data privacy professionals in an organisation contributes to the adoption of best practices in the data security regime. The job profile of these professionals is similar to that of in-house lawyers, where he/she advises and manages contracts. A data professional focuses only on privacy, policies and the management of available data against security breaches. 

When we say ‘Data Privacy Professional’ it is an umbrella term used to represent an entire sect of officers or positions included in the field. Some of the roles or positions in data privacy are given below.  

Chief Privacy Officer/Chief Compliance Officer 

The Chief Privacy Officer (CPO) is a senior executive designation in a company or organisation. Another designation for a chief privacy officer is Chief Compliance Officer. The responsibility of a CPO is to manage compliance with the prevailing data security and privacy rules and regulations.

According to Glassdoor,  the average salary of a chief privacy/compliance officer in India is 12 lakhs per annum. For the Vice President and Senior Vice President of Compliance, the salary ranges from Rs. 42 Lakhs per annum to Rs. 45 lakhs per annum. For example, a company called GSK pays around Rs. 40 thousand per month. 

Data protection officer   

A data protection officer’s main task is to ensure that the company or organisation follows privacy, data protection, and other applicable prevalent rules and regulations while managing the data. The officer is responsible for the security of the company’s data and information. Officers should advise, guide and educate the staff on data security and compliance. Data protection should also be conducted. The main goal is to secure the organisations/companies from breaches or any kind of illegal use. 

According to Glassdoor, the salary of a data protection officer ranges from Rs. 5 lakhs per annum to Rs. 29 lakhs per annum, depending on role and designation. For example, Vodafone pays Rs. 2 lakh per month to its data protection officer. 

Privacy counsel 

Businesses hire a dedicated privacy counsel for the organisation. The main task of the privacy counsel is to advise the organisation on its responsibilities and look after compliance with privacy, cyber security and data protection laws. This is an excellent opportunity for young law graduates who want to specialise in a niche field. Data privacy and protection is one of the dynamic fields that one can specialise in. 

According to Glassdoor, the salary of a privacy counsel ranges between Rs. 6 lakhs per annum to Rs. 18 lakhs per annum. 

Data privacy specialist 

A specialist is a person who specialises in a particular field. A data privacy specialist specialises in protecting sensitive data against unauthorised or illegal access. The implementation of all the privacy laws and compliance with rules and regulations are the responsibilities of the data privacy specialist.  

According to Indeed, the average base salary of a data privacy specialist is around Rs. 5 lakhs per annum. IBM pays Rs. 8.5 lakhs per annum to its data privacy specialist. Similarly, Uber pays around Rs. 13 lakhs per annum to the data privacy specialist. 

Data privacy manager 

A data privacy manager needs to implement the privacy rules and regulations in the business or organisation. The main purpose is to maintain confidentiality and protect sensitive data. Data privacy managers should lead initiatives related to privacy and advise the management of a business or an organisation on the best practices of data protection and privacy. 

According to Glassdoors, the reported salaries of a Data privacy manager ranges between Rs.5 lakhs per annum to Rs. 28 lakhs per annum. Jio pays Rs. 5 lakhs per annum for the privacy manager role. 

Data privacy analyst 

An organisation’s sensitive and personal data has to be protected confidentially by the data privacy analyst, who must maintain integrity, security and availability. An analyst analyses and monitors the available data and implements measures to protect the data from breaches or any illegal access. Privacy laws, rules and regulations are implemented. A data privacy analyst also assesses the existing rules and regulations of a business or organisation to verify that they meet the privacy requirements as per the standards. 

Today, data has become an asset for companies to run their businesses effectively. At this juncture, data analysts are hired to observe the business operations. Data analysts look into the legal and operational risks surrounding the information and modify, adapt or change the policies and programmes as per the requirements. This exercise is conducted continuously. All the steps taken by a data privacy analyst have to be within the realm of the organisation’s data agreements. Privacy analysts oversee the business operations along with specific privacy projects.

According to Glassdoors, the base salary of a privacy analyst ranges from Rs. 4 lakhs per annum to Rs. 10 lakhs per annum. The average salary is around Rs. 6 and half lakhs per annum. 

Data privacy and security consultant 

This is another job profile that one can pursue in the data privacy and protection field. The role is advisory. Through the advisory services, the consultant must provide strategies and measures to the organisations to maintain cyber security. Within the consultant profile, one can become a compliance consultant to provide services to the organisation in complying with the prevalent laws, rules and regulations relating to data protection and privacy. As a data privacy consultant, one can provide consultancy services to multiple organisations or businesses focusing on data protection and privacy issues.

These days, every company and organisation is hiring data privacy or data protection professionals. Hence, it became common practice to have a data privacy professional on the rolls of employees. Especially for large entities, it became best practice to recruit a data privacy professional into the team. Both private and government organisations hire data professionals. 

Companies like KPMG, EY, Deloitte, and others invest huge sums in these roles. According to Glassdoor, the salary of a security and privacy consultant ranges between Rs. 8 lakhs to 13 lakhs per annum. The Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) pays around Rs. 12 lakhs per annum to a data privacy consultant. 

Note: The designation of the posts varies from one organisation to another or from one country to another. Variations might happen for flexibility or suitability purposes. 

Research and academic roles 

Research and academic roles are another enriching opportunity. The main idea behind academic roles is to bring into light new perspectives, ideas, and arguments.  The researcher collects all the information from various sources and forms an informed opinion or point of view on any ongoing issue or conversation. The research contributes to the advancement of the research field, i.e., data privacy and protection, in terms of the adoption of best practices and the advancement of data privacy technologies. AI startups and other technologies, such as blockchain, extensively rely on research data when forming or innovating products.  Hence, the research roles are no less important. One can find research roles in sponsored think tanks of government organisations, private institutions or universities. One such organisation is the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC), a government agency that works on cyber security. Similarly, one can find opportunities in both government and private fields. 

Academia is a part of research. However, in addition to the research roles, one can find amazing opportunities in the part-time and full-time academic roles. Academia also plays a key role in research. For example: IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) developed, through research, an algorithm named NTRU-Prime. Apart from research, the main responsibility of academic roles is to teach and spread knowledge on the subject. The data privacy and protection field is an emerging subject. Hence, there will be an increasing demand in the coming years. The academic roles seek candidates with specialisations in the field. These positions would be suitable for individuals who are keen on learning. 

According to Ambition Box, the average salary of a data research associate is Rs. 3.5 lakhs per annum. For academic roles, the salary is similar to that of general academic roles, which ranges between Rs. 60,000 and Rs. 2 lakhs per annum, according to Glassdoors

Data protection and privacy lawyers 

The opportunities that will be mentioned in this section are for law students, young law graduates, and legal professionals. A degree in law from a recognized university or college is a must. Data protection and privacy is an emerging area of specialisation in the legal landscape as well. The intersection of technology and law is a fascinating subject to indulge in. Lawyers who have a keen interest in technology and privacy laws can opt for a career in this field. 

Independent practitioners 

One can start their independent practice in the field of data protection and privacy law, similar to other areas of law. The difference is in the clientele and the types of problems that one should deal with. The data protection and privacy area is a new and emerging area of practice. Hence, it is challenging yet rewarding. Companies and businesses seek advice and guidance for the implementation of privacy and data protection laws. 

Law firm associates 

Every business will need data protection services in the upcoming years. Hence, law firms are specialising in privacy laws. In India, top-tier firms have already created special departments that focus on data protection and privacy. This is a golden opportunity for all law students and graduates. One can choose to join a team of data privacy and protection lawyers at a law firm as a career choice. This is a good career option for law students and young law graduates. There are few law firms, both in India and abroad, that provide legal services under data privacy and protection laws. They have separate legal teams that focus on data protection and privacy. Law students or young professionals who are interested in technology law can specialise in data privacy and protection. Law students can start interning with firms which specialise in the area, and write articles and research papers on the topics to build their CVs  The leading law firms in India, such as Khaitan & Co., Fox Mandal, Indus Law and other top tier 1, tier-2 and tier-3 law firms,  have separate departments or teams for data protection. For more specialised experience, Spice Route Legal is one such firm that has specialised expertise in media, communications and technology laws. 

Data privacy lawyers fall under the category of cyber lawyers. Depending on the expertise and efficiency of the organisations, they pay enormous amounts to the lawyers. On an average a lawyer working in tier-1 and tier-2 firms earns between Rs. 10-18 lakhs per annum. 

International opportunities

Western countries, for example, California, came up with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) much before India. The GDPR came into force in 2018. All these lead to the creation of opportunities in privacy laws globally. Today, privacy and data security are not just domestic affairs but global issues. Among 194 countries, 137 have a legal framework for data protection and privacy. Recently, India has also joined the league. One can find opportunities in international markets which are battling with the issue of data security and privacy. For the one who wants to work abroad, data privacy is one of the dynamic fields.

Multinational Companies (MNCs) 

Apart from domestic work on privacy and data protection, one can enter the global market by availing of job opportunities in the MNCs. These companies have already started working on complying with the rules and regulations of data privacy and protection. MNCs are actively hiring individuals who would assist them in compliance with several rules and regulations in different jurisdictions without any impediment to business operations across the countries. One can find opportunities as in-house officers in MNCs such as Google, Netflix, and several other organisations. 

The salaries in different foreign jurisdictions for data privacy professionals are as follows: In Europe, it is € 71,584, in the United States, the approximate salary is $150,000, in the United Kingdom, the basic pay for entry level jobs is £28,000 and for experienced individuals, it is around £74,489.

International data privacy consultant

One should grasp and become an expert in the multi-jurisdictional data protection landscape in order to become an international data privacy consultant. To become a go-to person, one must master all the relevant laws at the multi-jurisdictional level. Once certain expertise is gained, one can place themselves in the international market for the skills that are in high demand globally. The MNCs also hire these individuals for their data protection and privacy departments. 

The average salary of a data privacy consultant in the United Arab Emirates is AED 277,936. According to salary.com, the average salary of a data privacy consultant is $101,681. 

International data privacy lawyers 

These lawyers are in high demand globally. For corporations, expertise on the subject will be an asset. They hire lawyers who have understanding and knowledge at the multijurisdictional level. In addition to specialising in data privacy laws, an international lawyer should have a good grasp on subjects of international law, trade laws, and others. 

According to talent.com,  in the United States, data privacy lawyers earn $164,000 per annum. The entry level jobs begin with $ 131,250 and go up to $225,000 for experienced professionals. Similarly, in the United Kingdom a data privacy lawyer earns £75,000 per annum. The entry level jobs range between £65,000 to £85,000 for experienced professionals. 

Conclusion 

Currently, data privacy and protection is an evolving field with high demand and low supply. The pandemic further boosted the technology industry, especially for e-commerce companies. Everything and every work is transformed into an online or digital atmosphere, which is still currently prevailing through Work from Home (WFH) policies. Data becomes crucial for all businesses, depending on which business models and strategies are prepared.  This, in turn, required protection and security for information with the implementation of privacy laws. The increase in data breaches and leaks further highlighted the significance of protecting sensitive and personal information. All these elements make the field more challenging and rewarding. Whatever role one chooses, either as a data consultant or a researcher, any career in the data privacy and protection field brings a change and a notable impact on technology and privacy.  The data privacy and protection domain is a new and flourishing career field, especially for Gen Z folks. Do not hesitate to contact us to learn more about the opportunities and available courses on the subject at www.lawsikho.com

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Is prior technical knowledge required or mandatory?  

No, it is not mandatory, though an overview of the technical details would be an added advantage to the candidate. There are real-time situations where a person with no technical background is recruited as a privacy manager in the company. Taking up a course focusing on Data privacy and protection would cover all your doubts. To know more about courses, click here. 

What are the skills required to become a data privacy and protection professional? 

In addition to the communication skills, analytical skills and other skills mentioned above, the additional practical skills required are as follows: 

  • Technical Proficiency: Data privacy and protection belong to a technical field of information technology. Hence, basic technical expertise in the subject is crucial. Knowledge of certain technologies, such as firewalls, encryption, and data processing techniques, is important. Familiarity with IT systems, databases, and network security. Ability to assess and implement technical solutions for data protection. 
  • Critical analysis skill: Attention to detail is the main component of critical analysis skills. Every element of the data and privacy regulations must be meticulously examined.  
  • Risk Assessment and Management: One of the tasks of a data privacy professional is risk assessment. The privacy risks should be identified, and necessary strategies should be formulated.
  • Flexibility and adaptability: Technology is one of the fastest-evolving sectors. Hence, data professionals should be flexible in the adoption of new technologies in data security and privacy regulations for improved results. 

Where can you find and apply for job opportunities in the field of data privacy and protection?

One can find a list of opportunities or vacancies through a job search platform. One such example is naukri.com. 

How much does a data privacy analyst earn? 

The salary range differs depending on the organisation and the country that one works for. As per statistics, the average salary of a data privacy analyst is $110,000. 

What are the responsibilities of a data privacy analyst? 

 Some of the key responsibilities of a Data Privacy Analyst are 

  • As per laws such as GDPR, data privacy analysts must ensure compliance with all prevailing rules and regulations. 
  • Preparation of compliance reports.
  • To resolve doubts of all the internal stakeholders concerning data processing, privacy laws and protection requirements. 
  • Conducting investigation and the preparation of reports on any breaches or unauthorised access to data. 

How to specialise in the data protection and privacy field?

Specialisation is the key, especially for subjects like data privacy and protection, which are specialised by themselves. The direct way is to pursue a Postgraduate (P.G) Degree in data protection and privacy. In addition to it doing diploma or certification courses would also be helpful. Any kind of professional opportunities and certifications that would help in the development of skills and knowledge. 

What are the uses of data privacy certifications? 

The first and foremost use of data privacy certification is that it indicates or acts as a signal of the knowledge of the data privacy laws, rules and regulations. It demonstrates one’s theoretical and practical knowledge of data compliance for an organisation. Certifications also display one’s interest in the subject and help in specialisation on the subject. To explain simply, certifications offer two benefits: first, they provide a great learning experience, and second, they meet job requirements because employers often look for certifications to hire. Hence, it is advisable to get certifications on the subject to excel in this specialised field of data privacy and protection. 

From where can one do certifications? Are there any specific organisations? 

No ‘special’ or ‘official’ status is granted to one particular course or organisation. Various organisations provide different courses on the subjects. The value of the certificate depends on a lot of factors such as the reputation of the organisation, course credits, etc. Hence, candidates need to look after the course and the organisation’s suitability and credibility before obtaining the course. Some of the renowned courses are already mentioned above in the article. 

What is the purpose of compliance audits? 

There is a need for a compliance audit for the following reasons: 

  1. Mitigation of legal risks-Noncompliance with data protection laws leads to severe penalties. 
  2. Compliance- The audits help to verify whether the organisation follows regulatory and legal compliance appropriately. 
  3. Prevention of data breaches-Compliance audits help to identify the gaps and vulnerabilities in security practices. 

What are the benefits of conducting Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA)? 

PIA is a cybersecurity practice that aids in providing information and security technology benefits. Some of the benefits of PIA are as follows: 

  • Risk Management: With the help of PIA, any gaps in the system can be identified. It will also help to take steps towards mitigating the risks, like threats and internal controls. Risk management can be done easily with the PIA. 
  • Compliance: PIA plays a significant role in compliance with laws such as GDPR, HIPPA or any law that needs to be followed by the organisation. Violations and breaches of legal frameworks can be prevented if PIA is conducted. 
  • Analytics: PIA provides data analytics for cybersecurity decision-making. It highlights the gaps and showcases model scenarios which helps the team to make decisions on the allocation of resources. 

What are entry-level jobs in the data protection and privacy field?

Entry-level jobs are the starting positions in any particular field of data protection and privacy. One can find entry-level jobs in law firms as a trainee or apprenticeship, in consulting firms as a junior advocate, as a volunteer in NGOs or industry organisations, and as an in-house lawyer in private companies and government departments. 


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