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How to Build a Privacy Program for a Startup 

Updated: May 18, 2023

How to Build a Privacy Program for a Startup 

Data privacy compliance is becoming a crucial priority for many established businesses and startups are no exception. And if you’ve been tasked with building a privacy program for a startup, you’ve got an excellent opportunity to create a privacy program that fits your company’s needs.

However, it comes with particular challenges. Where do you start? What should you focus on? How do you present new privacy initiatives to the company? We’ve got you covered with eight essential steps to build a robust privacy program for your startup.

But before we dive in, make sure to take some time to understand the business thoroughly. Who are their customers? What does leadership expect? What are the top priorities? Answer these and it’ll give you a solid foundation to build off.

Let’s dive in.

Eight essential steps to build a robust privacy program

Now the real work begins. Creating a new privacy program gives you a starting point and helps your coworkers get a better picture of the importance of privacy at your company.

Essential step #1: An external privacy policy

If you don’t currently have a privacy policy online for your website visitors, do that first. If the company does have one, review it and make adjustments as needed. If you need a starting point, look at companies' privacy policies that have a similar offering.

This will help you understand what needs to be in your privacy policy and give ideas you might have initially overlooked. And depending on your company, there could be legal issues that need to be covered.

Essential step #2: An internal privacy policy

Like an external privacy policy for website visitors, and internal privacy policy can serve as an important primer for employers. It can cover guidelines on how to handle privacy internally. You’ll want to detail the types of data you control, how you handle that data, any relevant security protocols, and other relevant procedures for your company.

Essential step #3: Employee training

Training employees can help fill your employees in on the upcoming privacy changes at your organization and give them ways to ask questions. Privacy training will also help your employees better understand your privacy policy.

You’ll have the opportunity to cover privacy basics, introduce new privacy programs, and give them a glimpse of what’s to come. Additionally, you can spark lively debates and identify potential privacy issues before they’re a problem. And finally, make sure senior leadership is part of the training. All it takes is just one employee can make a mistake that puts a company at risk.

Essential step #4: Privacy by design

Privacy by design means your company takes a proactive approach to privacy by using tools like Cookie Consent Management to improve privacy compliance. A privacy-centric approach will save your organization both time and money. By handling privacy matters before they become an issue, you avoid future issues that can come up. And as consumers’ interest in privacy continues to grow, privacy by design shows them you’re serious about their privacy.

Essential step #5: A breach response plan

While we’d all like to avoid data breaches, it’s a part of today’s online marketplace. And when it does happen, you need to have a plan. Most likely, your tech or security team has some type of plan in place. If so, you’ll want to review it together to make any updates needed. If one is not in place, you’ll want to create one ASAP. A breach response plan should cover the creation of a data breach response team, how a data breach investigation will be handled, and who controls the different aspects.

Essential step #6: A protocol for data retention

One of the most common questions consumers ask is, “How long do you keep my data”? A data retention policy should answer that. You’ll need to have a plan covering what kind of data you retain and how long you retain it. This limits the risk of a data breach, but it also helps reduce storage costs.

Essential step #7: Data privacy leveraging AI

Last, you’ll want to check your cookies, consent management, and other privacy components to ensure your company meets GDPR, CCPA, and any other applicable legislation. The GDPR alone creates many new requirements that can create problems for unaware businesses. Fortunately, a quick cookie scan can show you what cookies are on your site and where you may need to gain consent.

And with the growing number of legislations around data privacy, there is no shortage of information to help fill in the gaps.

Essential step #8: Additional resources designed for startups

With the ongoing changes in data privacy, building a privacy program for your startup isn’t a “one and done” type of project. It’ll require ongoing diligence to ensure your organization stays compliant and keeps your consumers’ data safe.

The Adzapier Resource Library is full of updated blogs, infographics, and eBooks on the latest changes and how you can implement them into your startup.

Keep building on your privacy program

Once you have made progress on these eight essential steps, you’ve already made a significant step towards a more comprehensive data privacy program.

And as you continue to enhance and build your program, stay on top of new privacy news, legislation, and initiatives. Connecting with other privacy professionals is a great way to keep up. Be proud of the progress you’ve made and make sure senior leadership is in touch with your changes.

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