Protect and Update Your Site’s User Data for the New Year

Personal Data Retention and Privacy Policies

Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in concerns over personal privacy and user data retention.

We have seen news stories time and time again about data breaches. Legislation like GDPR and CCPA has made data protection a liability for websites. The arrival of the new year is the perfect time to review your personal data retention and privacy policies.

Update Your Privacy Policy

Over the course of the year, your website has changed. It may have new features and services for your users to take advantage of. It’s important to make sure these changes are reflected in your privacy policy. Letting users know about what, how, and where the information about them is stored are key parts of both GDPR and CCPA compliance. These changes should also be reflected in the terms and conditions or terms of use for your website.

Cookie Policy Notification

Updating your privacy policy goes hand in hand with notifying users of cookies utilized on your website. Every modern website uses cookies to keep track of temporary user data to help them use the website. A big part of CCPA compliance is letting your users know that you are using cookies to store data when they first visit the website. Even if your website doesn’t meet the three criteria to require CCPA compliance, it is good practice to preemptively add this user notification to your website.

Review User Data and Accounts

Depending on the purpose and service your website provides its users, it is important to review the user data and accounts it holds. This information is usually the most important and valuable to your website and business and should be periodically reviewed and audited.

Remove Irrelevant Data

This can usually be found in the form of testing or spam user accounts or form submissions. Clearing out this unproductive data can help you gain a better understanding of your actual users and target audience. In addition to clearing this out, putting tools and procedures in place to remove irrelevant data in a more timely manner may benefit your site greatly. Making sure as part of a testing process the data is removed, and employing additional spam filters and services can help keep your data relevant.

Clear Out and Archive Old Data

Reviewing old form submissions, user accounts, and order data then exporting and archiving it offline can help protect your website. This can help improve performance, reduce liability, and improve security. Again, your website data is valuable and should always be kept safe, but as it gets older it may become less relevant. You should look at what a reasonable timeframe for keeping data is for your website and the service it provides. Removing and archiving any information older than that timeframe into a long-term storage solution can help keep it safe and out of the way, but still there when you need it.

Revisit Data Request and Deletion Processes

Users are becoming more aware of their personal data collection and taking ownership of it. As part of GDPR compliance and a general good practice, users should be allowed to request a copy of their data or request to have it deleted. Having a process in place to accommodate this can help build user confidence in your organization as well as be a good tool for retrieving and managing data. As more legislation has been introduced on data protection, a lot of web providers have been including this as a feature in their services. WordPress 4.9.6 introduced personal data exporter and removal tools to export/remove user accounts and personal data associated. Having a plan in place for dealing with these requests will help prevent future data issues.

Hopefully, this information will help get you thinking about managing your website data—not just for now, but how you will be able to make improvements going forward. Use these steps to protect your site’s data and future. If you’re in need of website maintenance and development assistance, contact the experts at Hall.

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