DP Healthchecks & Audits

The accountability principle of the UK GDPR requires controllers to demonstrate compliance with data protection principles. Data protection audits/health checks, if done properly, are a convenient tool for controllers to demonstrate accountability.  

Besides the legal, data protection audits/health checks can help you to really understand the data protection function of your business, including potentially identifying how things ought to be changed to enhance profitability and/or productivity.  

What do audits/healthchecks involve?  

Broadly there are two types of audits/healthchecks – adequacy and compliance. An adequacy audit/healthcheck focuses on understanding how a business carries out data processing and will consider its relevant policies and procedures.

A compliance audit/healthcheck goes further and tests how a businesses data protection framework works in practice.  

Often, the two types of audit are combined and their extent will be dictated by the extent of perceived risks, and available time and budget.  Audits/healthchecks typically involved questionnaires and interviews of key staff but can stretch as far as monitoring workflows across departments, for example to ascertain what steps a business takes to process a data subject access request or to deal with a suspected or confirmed personal data breach.  

What should I think about before conducting an audit/healthcheck?  

First, a business should consider whether it has sufficient resource and expertise to conduct the audit itself, or whether it should bring in a third-party auditor. Whether or not your business has an experienced Data Protection Officer will likely factor into this.  

Second, the business will need to determine the scope of the audit/ healthcheck across the business. Typical areas of a business which are audited include HR (including payroll and benefits); IT (to determine security and contingency measures in place); customer support and sales.

Whether or not to audit/healthcheck the business as a whole or by specific function will depend on the business as well as time and budget available.  Either way, a successful audit/healthcheck will require buy in from the business and should start at the top to set the correct precedent. Whilst an in house legal/compliance function or an external auditor may lead the audit/healthcheck, it will need the co-operation of the business, its staff and potentially contractors and other third parties to obtain all information needed to complete the audit.  

What happens after an audit/healthcheck?  

After an audit, typically a written report is produced detailing key results. The aim of an audit/health check report is to help the business identify actual and potential issues in relation to data protection as well as areas for improvement. Having reviewed the report, it will then be for the business to decide and implement any appropriate, necessary corrective action.  

How can we help?  

We can advise on audits/healthchecks from a data protection perspective, including what should be audited for data protection compliance.  

Want to speak with one of our experienced data protection lawyers? Get in touch with the team.  

How to get started

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