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Understanding Data Protection Impact Assessments under the GDPR

In the labyrinth of data protection, a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) stands out as a vital navigational tool. Think of a DPIA as your GPS through the intricate world of data processing – it doesn’t just keep you on the right side of the law but also steers you towards a more trustworthy and transparent relationship with your users. By performing DPIAs, you’re not just ticking a compliance box; you’re heading to smarter data handling, reducing risks, and dodging those hefty non-compliance GDPR fines. So, let’s dive in and decode the DPIA, transforming it from a complex mandate into an opportunity to enhance your business’ data practices. Get ready to make DPIAs your ally in navigating the GDPR landscape!

What is a Data Protection Impact Assessment?   

A DPIA is essentially a process, a systematic approach designed to foresee and address potential privacy risks that might emerge during any data processing activity. It’s like conducting a thorough health check-up for your project’s data handling practices, ensuring that personal information is not just treated with care but also with respect for individual privacy rights.

The DPIA is proactive, not reactive. It’s about anticipating problems before they occur. By conducting a DPIA, you’re essentially taking a step back to scrutinise your data processing plans, asking critical questions like: “What privacy risks could this project pose? How severe are these risks? What can we do to mitigate them?”

When is a DPIA Required?

Under the GDPR, the DPIA is not just a good-to-have; it’s a must-have for certain types of data processing activities. Specifically, it’s mandated for processing operations that are likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals. This could include large-scale processing of sensitive data, systematic monitoring of public areas, or any processing that involves making decisions based on personal data.

Key Steps in Conducting a DPIA

  • Identify the need for a DPIA: evaluate whether the planned data processing activity falls under the GDPR’s criteria for a DPIA.
  • Describe the data flow: clearly outline how data is collected, stored, used, and deleted.
  • Assess related risks: identify potential risks to the rights and freedoms of individuals.
  • Identify data protection solutions: propose measures to mitigate identified risks.
  • Document the DPIA outcomes: keep a record of the DPIA process and outcomes for accountability and transparency.
  • Integrate DPIA outcomes into the project plan: ensure that the findings and recommendations of the DPIA are incorporated into the project.

Actionable Recommendations

  • Early integration: begin the DPIA in the early stages of project planning to ensure that data protection measures are embedded from the start.
  • Stakeholder engagement: involve various stakeholders, including data protection officers, IT staff, and legal advisors, in the DPIA process.
  • Regular updates: DPIAs should not be one-off exercises. Regularly review and update them, especially when there are significant changes to the data processing activities or the underlying technology.
  • Transparency: be transparent about your DPIA process and outcomes with relevant stakeholders, including the public, where appropriate.
  • Consultation with authorities: if the DPIA identifies high residual risks, consult with the relevant data protection authorities for guidance.



By integrating DPIAs into their data processing activities, businesses can not only adhere to legal obligations but also demonstrate their commitment to responsible data management. As data processing technologies evolve, the role of DPIAs will become increasingly significant in ensuring that personal data is handled with the care and respect it deserves. We invite you to book a 20-minute call with our experts to discuss how we can assist you in conducting thorough and compliant data protection impact assessments.

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Anna Levitina


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