Glossary

The Impact & Importance of Data Protection Authorities (DPA)

Businesses operating in European markets must comply with an array of different data protection and privacy laws. Although the majority of businesses are aware of the European Union’s (EU) GDPR laws, the actual task of enforcing these laws falls to EU Data Protection Authorities (DPA).

To remain compliant with European data protection laws, companies must be aware of data protection authorities and their role in protecting consumers’ privacy.

Let’s examine what an EU DPA is and how your business can achieve full compliance.

What is a DPA?

So, what’s DPA, and how do they work?

The closest equivalent of a data protection agency is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates all electronic communications.

DPAs act as independent public authorities that supervise, investigate, and apply data protection laws within the EU. They’re responsible for handling complaints and interpreting EU law.

Each EU member state has a separate data protection authority. Businesses operating in multiple member states may have to deal with multiple data protection authorities.

Nations all over the world have these organizations, but a DPA in Europe, and those in China, tend to have the most influence when it comes to enforcing data privacy laws.

What is the Role of a DPA?

Within the EU, DPA data protection bodies were established by the Data Protection Act of 2004. The primary function of these public authorities is to consistently enforce data privacy and protection laws across the EU. Without them, it would be nearly impossible to accomplish this.

Here are the primary roles of an EU DPA:

  • Handle data breach reports.
  • Enforce data protection laws at the national level.
  • Provide mediation.
  • Offer advice to businesses on compliance.
  • Interpret aspects of EU law, particularly when it comes to GDPR.
  • Manage fines and other non-compliance penalties.

Like most public agencies, the average business will never come into contact with DPA privacy protection agencies unless approaching them for advice or dealing with non-compliance penalties.

Does the United States have a DPA?

The United States is one of the only developed nations on the planet without a dedicated data protection authority. Instead, individual states set their own laws. This means U.S. businesses must navigate the requirements of multiple departments across the country.

The strongest privacy laws within the U.S. are those set by California. These are seen as the gold standard of data protection for businesses operating across the country and internationally. Many organizations choose to use these privacy protection regulations as the benchmark for establishing their data infrastructures.

Within the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) countries, both Mexico and Canada have national data protection authorities.

Businesses may find it difficult to achieve compliance within all relevant territories. This is why it's strongly recommended businesses invest in consulting qualified legal professionals when designing a complete data infrastructure.

How Do You Become DPA Compliant?

Achieving compliance with each data protection agency in the world is a significant challenge facing every type of business.

Here are some general tips for how to go about tackling data protection-related compliance issues.

Contact a DPA Directly for Guidance

The primary role of any data protection agency is to advise and educate businesses on compliance within their jurisdiction.

The easiest way to learn about what you need to do to achieve compliance is to approach the relevant authority and request guidance.

Work with Professionals

Consulting with legal experts specializing in corporate law is well worth the investment. With many countries strengthening the financial penalties for non-compliance, this is an investment that could save your organization money in the long run.

It’s considered best practice to consult legal experts before operating in brand new territory.

Work with the Right Software Vendors

When utilizing software to power your business, prioritize those vendors that already have compliance tools built into their systems. The most reputable software vendors already provide resources to their customers to ensure they comply with DPA data protection laws.

Manage Your Data Correctly

Working with an outside professional in navigating data privacy laws can pay dividends in the long term.

The first step to achieving compliance is to establish your data infrastructure in the right way. As well as working to unlock the potential in your data, you create a platform that’s compliant with even the most stringent data protection laws.

With so many similarities between data protection obligations across the world, complying with the tougher data privacy regulations means you will already be compliant in the majority of territories.

In order to manage your data correctly, work with a data infrastructure specialist like Delphix. Doing so will improve how you handle data and provide a competitive edge, all while staying compliant with data protection authority requirements.

As public concern grows over data security, your organization must demonstrate that it’s doing its part to protect the people it serves.