In order to protect themselves and their customers, companies in many industries are required to retain certain types of data for defined periods of time. Data retention is more complex than it sounds, especially as the data can include personal and sensitive financial and other information, and companies must implement strategies enabling them to comply with all regulations without compromising on privacy and security.
What is Data Retention?
Data retention simply means storing collected information for a defined period of time. Companies in the public sector, governments and other heavily regulated industries such as financial services, commodities trading and healthcare routinely collect information about their clients and customers in order to serve them.
Laws and regulations are in place to guide companies in how best to retain data in such a way that they can provide transparency into their business practices without violating the privacy of consumers. By following these regulations and having a solid data retention policy in place, companies can be sure that they are not storing more information than necessary or for longer periods of time than required.
What Should a Data Retention Policy Include?
As long as all legal requirements are met, companies are free to create and implement a data retention policy that works best based on their unique situation. A good data retention policy will include the following:
- Laws and Standards – information on the exact laws and regulatory standards that the company must adhere to as well as how employees can ensure compliance.
- Classification – a list of all types of data that the company collects and in what context.
- Retention Details – a comprehensive guide to how long each piece of data must be stored and in what format.
- Processes – detailed, step-by-step guides to capturing, storing, and securing the data as well as how data is deleted when it no longer needs to be stored.
- Responsibilities – clear division of labor and names of people (or job titles) responsible for overseeing the data retention policy and who to turn to in case of policy violations.
Best Practices for Creating a Data Retention Policy
In order to create a solid data retention policy that incorporates the points listed above, following are actions to take:
- Identify Relevant Laws and Regulations – specific regulations will vary based on industry and location, but the first step is always to understand which regulations are relevant and what the specific rules are related to which data must be retained and for how long. For example, companies doing business in the EU are bound by GDPR and securities companies in the USA are governed by FINRA.
- Classify all Data – list out all the types of data that the business collects by department and use including the format of the data, such as hard copy, electronic, etc. This list can then be compared to the regulations to help determine which types of data must be retained and for how long.
- Assign Roles and Responsibilities – it is important to have one person or small team with overall responsibility for data retention. While there may be a number of employees who are responsible for managing data on a daily basis, there must be a central address where people can go to ask questions or report a potential breach. This person or team should also be responsible for staying updated on changes to regulations and passing that information on to relevant employees.
- Policy Implementation and Audits – regular audits will make sure that the data retention policy is being implemented effectively, and can help identify areas for improvement.
The Benefits of a Data Retention Policy
Having a data retention policy provides the following benefits:
- Accessibility – storing only necessary data in an organized way will make it easy to access that data when needed, whether it is for evidence in a lawsuit or simply for internal reporting purposes.
- Security – data security is a huge risk for companies, and a data retention policy includes storing information securely, protecting it from hackers.
- Trust – when customers know that a business is handling their data responsibly, they are more likely to trust the company and remain loyal.
How LeapXpert Can Help with Data Retention
With LeapXpert’s communication platform, electronic communications are automatically captured and archived in compliance with all relevant regulations. A secure-by-design platform ensures that the highest levels of security are met while allowing consumers to continue communicating with the business using the communication modes of their choice, including popular third-party apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, and other messaging apps. Book a demo to learn more.