A Guide to Leveraging Data Mapping for GDPR Compliance

Batja Huisman
Batja Huisman
Dec 12, 2022
min read
A Guide to Leveraging Data Mapping for GDPR Compliance

Data mapping can make it easier for businesses to comply with the GDPR privacy regulation and make their data usable and structured. Learn more about data mapping and how it can help your business comply with the European data privacy requirements.

Disclaimer: the following guide is not to be used for any legal purposes and was not created by legal professionals.

What is Data Mapping?

Data mapping, the process of matching and correlating data fields between two (or more) different databases, enables databases to collaborate on data. This enables data communication and drives business processes.

In our digital world, growing global volumes of data are continuously being transmitted and consumed. By ensuring data is consistent across databases, the data mapping process ensures standardization, structure, and accuracy of these processes and the data. In addition, it helps identify risks and enables data consumption and manipulation. This makes the data usable at each destination so it can be migrated, integrated, and analyzed for business insights.

Data mapping is essential for complying with regulations that require data management, like the GDPR and the CCPA, as it provides businesses with control over their data so they can manage it, track it, delete it, and other actions as required by the regulations (more on that in this article).

Manual Data Mapping vs. Automated Data Mapping

When mapping data, businesses can take a manual or an automated approach. Manual data mapping requires technical or security teams to track and update their systems or spreadsheets for new data fields, often based on employee interviews. This option is very resource-intensive, occasional, prone to errors, and requires diverting employees from the main focus of the business.

Automated data mapping, on the other hand, integrates with a company’s tech stack and allows for continuous data governance by creating an automated blueprint of all past and current data sources. This more efficient solution provides quicker and more accurate results that don’t depend on the team’s memory or due diligence.  In addition, it maintains the map and updates it regularly to reduce privacy and security risks. 

How Data Mapping Helps Businesses Comply with GDPR

GDPR sets various requirements for businesses to protect personal data that they collect on their European users. Mapping this data and creating a data inventory can significantly help with managing and tracking the data. Data mapping provides information about how data is stored and gathered, making it easier to minimize unnecessary data and to apply security measures and security risks. In addition, data mapping helps with tracking consent and accuracy, keeping detailed documentation of the data, and locating data for access and deletion requests. These are all required actions by the GDPR.

Now let’s break these requirements down according to the specific GDPR articles:

Article 30: Records of Processing Activities (RoPA)

According to Article 30, businesses need to maintain a record of processing activities (RoPA). The RoPA needs to contain:

  • The controller’s details
  • Data processing purposes
  • A description of the data categories
  • Information regarding personal data transferred to a third country
  • Security measures in place
  • Records of all processing activities that are carried out

How Data Mapping Helps Comply with GDPR Article 30

Data mapping can help with recording and creating a trustworthy data pool that makes it easier to create a RoPA and find the required information. Data mapping also provides insights into data conduct and management. Read more here.

Article 35: Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA)

Article 35 requires businesses to assess the impact of processing operations before carrying them out. This is important to ensure they do not violate any privacy rights and help protect individuals.

The assessment should include:

  • A description of the operations
  • An assessment of the necessity of these operations
  • An assessment of the risks
  • Measures taken to address and mitigate these risks

How Data Mapping Helps Comply with GDPR Article 35

To create their DPIA, businesses need to gain visibility into their data and how it is stored and used. Data mapping helps document the data, where it resides, and how it is processed. By starting out with data mapping, businesses can then continue to create the DPIA.

Article 33: Notification of a Personal Data Breach to the Supervisory Authority

Article 33 in the GDPR requires businesses to notify authorities of personal data breaches within 72 hours of becoming aware of them.

The notification should include:

  • The nature of the breach, including data subjects, categories, and the involved data records
  • A contact person’s details
  • The expected consequences
  • The measures that will be taken to address the breach

How Data Mapping Helps Comply with GDPR Article 33

The tight 72-hour deadline requires businesses to be efficient and act swiftly. Data mapping in advance helps companies focus on what they need to do in these 72 hours rather than spend time and resources trying to understand which data resides where. Mapped data helps quickly understand and analyze the breach's impact, so they can analyze the consequences and report to authorities on time.

GDPR can also help comply with Article 34, which requires communicating the data breach to the affected individual(s).

Article 5: Principles Relating to Processing of Personal Data

The GDPR’s Article 5 depicts how businesses should process data. One of the requirements is to ensure personal data is “adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed (‘data minimization’).” This means that only the minimal data required for business operations should be collected, stored, and used.

How Data Mapping Helps Comply with GDPR Article 5

Data mapping helps businesses track the data they are storing and processing. Visibility into the personal data kept in organizational systems helps ensure no excessive data is being used. Lack of visibility means businesses do not know if they are keeping the minimum amounts of data required, making it difficult for them to answer questions or provide reports thereof.

Data Subjects Requests Fulfillment

The GDPR requires businesses to adhere to individuals’ requests to access their personal data, delete it, update it, or restrict its processing. These requests must be fulfilled within 30 days. This is also known as a DSR (Data Subject Request).

How Data Mapping Helps Comply with Data Subjects’ Requests

A clear mapping of all private data the business is storing can help respond to these requests and significantly decrease the time required to do so, as it will be easy to know what data was collected, where it is stored, and with automation, also easier to ensure the request was fulfilled.

Consent Management

The GDPR requires the consent of individuals to process their data. Consent must be:

  • Demonstrable by the business
  • Easy to understand and accessible for the individual
  • Easy to withdraw at any time

In addition, it must be clear whether consent is required to receive a service.

How Data Mapping Helps Comply with Consent Management

Consent is one of the underlying foundations of GDPR, therefore, businesses should address it with care. Data mapping can help companies to identify the consent mechanisms in place, understand where consent has been given, and enable easy consent withdrawal.

Benefits of Automated Data Mapping for GDPR Compliance

Automated data mapping can significantly improve businesses’ abilities to comply with GDPR. This is mainly by ensuring:

  • Reliability - The data pool and data sources are kept up-to-date, making them trustworthy and enabling accuracy when reporting or updating data.
  • Visibility - Data mapping provides visibility into how data is stored and processed, enabling businesses to create DPIAs and reports.
  • Efficiency - Sometimes, businesses need to provide quick answers. Data mapping provides immediate insights and analyses, enabling swift and prompt reporting.
  • Comprehensiveness - Automated data mapping provides a complete picture of data in a structured manner, enabling businesses to act on the data instead of spending time organizing it or combing through it.
  • Reduced Costs - Automated data mapping provides immediate results and keeps data up-to-date, saving manual hours and reducing costs from manual errors.

How to Start Your Data Mapping Journey

While data mapping can make GDPR compliance much easier, getting started might seem hard. But that is not the case. An automated data mapping like Mine’s solution is easy to access and use immediately to help you:

  • Uncover all your company's past and current data sources
  • Provide you with a solution for complying with GDPR
  • Facilitate privacy requests by locating and accessing user data faster
  • Provide you with actionable insights and threat intelligence into your data sources
  • Help you identify potential security and compliance risks
  • Quickly generate important records like RoPA reports

Reduce your compliance and security risks today with Mine, a no-code data mapping automation tool that provides real-time data mapping capabilities for GDPR compliance and RoPA reporting, so you can reveal up to 100% of all data sources. Start here.