Using a Gap Analysis to Prepare for Future Privacy Laws

Using gap analysis to prepare for future privacy laws

Privacy laws are gaining traction across the globe because companies and consumers alike are more concerned about data privacy than ever before. We’re seeing sweeping legislation across countries — like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), China’s Personal Information Protection Law (“PIPL”) and Brazil’s Data Protection Law (Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados or “LGPD”), as well as more granular laws going into effect in states across the United States, such as the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”), Colorado Privacy Act (“CPA”), and the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (“VCDPA”). 

The rise of privacy laws is having a significant impact on compliance programs. Compliance experts now need to stay on top of evolving legislation and implement processes and procedures across their organizations to comply with each new law. This involves an effort in education, as well as, execution.  

To make matters even more complex, organizations must often balance multiple privacy laws — catering to customers in different regions, or to corporate offices spread throughout various jurisdictions foreign and domestic. Breaking down the components of each law and ensuring that an organization has the proper processes in place to meet each requirement is a time consuming and costly process. This is amplified when that effort includes multiple pieces of legislation that must be accounted for.  

With so many different legal requirements to consider, it’s essential to stay organized in your approach to tackling privacy law compliance. That’s why we suggest starting with a gap analysis. 

What is a Gap Analysis? 

Just as it sounds, a gap analysis is used to identify gaps between the requirements of a law and the processes and controls currently in place within your organization. This is typically the first step organizations take on the road to compliance with ISO certifications, SOC examinations, and more. 

Conducting a gap analysis for privacy laws specifically allows you to proactively identify data security risks and ensure your policies and procedures are in compliance with the laws that impact your organization. This has major benefits for your business: Identifying compliance gaps prevents your organization from being subject to expensive regulatory fines and provides a tangible asset for you to furnish to regulators that demonstrates your compliance actions. A gap analysis also serves as a tool to help your organization decide how to allocate resources for privacy and data management projects. The gaps identified can be structured into a roadmap, which provides your organization a blueprint for compliance priorities.  

A Step-by-Step Guide 

In order to conduct a gap analysis, you’ll need to understand all of the privacy laws that impact your business. This may include regional laws — like the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”)— and industry specific laws like HIPAA or FedRAMP. Once you have an understanding of the legal landscape that you’re operating within, you’ll be able to follow the steps outlined below.  

  1. Identify Legal Requirements: List all of the applicable standards within relevant laws. Be sure to include all controls or requirements included within each section/clause of the law. 
  2. Note Your Existing Policies: Identify all of your business’ relevant privacy policies, outlining the procedures and practices your organization follows to collect data, manage data, secure data, manage employee access to data, etc. 
  3. Look for Overlaps: Match the above two items together to identify which policies, procedures and controls cover the identified legal requirements. 
  4. Identify Gaps: Identify sections of each applicable law that your organization does not have a corresponding privacy practice, policy and/or procedures in place to address.  
  5. Chart Your Next Steps: Establish a plan to implement or update policies, procedures and controls to cover the identified gaps. 

Managing Privacy Laws Cohesively 

As we mentioned previously, many organizations must comply with various legal requirements in order to cater to customers located in different jurisdictions around the world. Pieces of legislation often overlap with one another — expressing the same requirement or sentiment in a different form, article, or legal statement present within the law. If organizations aren’t careful to recognize these overlaps, it can lead to unnecessary (and expensive) duplication of work.  

A gap analysis can be a useful tool when managing laws cohesively. By outlining each control or requirement within the law — instead of just looking at the legislation in full — it becomes easier to identify duplicate pieces and parts of different laws, and see areas that your organization already covers or is working to cover. This is another application of the gap analysis approach, which can save time and money for your organization. 

Get Started Today 

To get the most out of a gap analysis, it’s best to work with an auditing firm who has a deep understanding of the legal requirements of each section of the privacy legislation that impacts your business. That way, the policies and procedures in place at your organization can be properly assessed for compliance.  

A-LIGN is a trusted partner that provides gap assessment services such as for the GDPR, the CCPA, ISO/IEC 27701:2019 and HIPAA. In addition, A-LIGN can perform a gap assessment to grade how your organization collects, stores, shares, protects and maintains sensitive information.  

Let our expert auditors conduct a gap analysis to ensure your partners comply with every necessary piece of legislation.