Software Integrity Blog


Data privacy requires data security, just ask Equifax

Data privacy requires data security, just ask Equifax

Data Privacy and Data Security

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be enforced starting May 25, 2018. One of its goals is to better align data privacy with data security, as depicted in this simple Venn diagram:

That is, you can have data security without data privacy, but you can’t have data privacy without data security. 

Equifax painfully has come to this same conclusion, and well before the May 25, 2018 date.

A little history on data privacy principles

Many years ago, Equifax could have successfully argued that they have complied with data privacy requirements because they have not sold consumers data without those consumers’ permission. That was how low the bar was set when data privacy first became an issue.

Even as long ago as 1995, one of the data privacy principles in Directive 95/46/EC required appropriate security controls when handling private data. However, data privacy had focused only on issues of consumer consent and intentional disclosure of private data; that is, until Equifax clarified for us last week that that is not enough.

GDPR: New requirements for security controls

Just like with Directive 95/46/EC, one of the data privacy principles of the GPDR requires similar security controls, but the important requirement that GDPR adds is that companies must provide evidence of those security controls.

Certainly, GDPR regulators will want to see evidence of security controls, but even companies that are not directly targets of regulators will be required to produce such evidence to their customers if any company downstream in their supply chain perceives themselves to be a target of regulators. Evidence of security controls will be a condition of doing business.

The Equifax breach makes clear in a visceral way what the GDPR will make clear through regulations: the consequences to the private individual are just as damaging, if not more, when their private data is breached compared to when it is sold to an unauthorized party, ask the 140 million individuals in Equifax’s database.

David Znidarsic | Founder & President of Stairstep Consulting

David Znidarsic is the founder and president of Stairstep Consulting, where he provides intellectual property consultation services ranging from IP forensics, M&A diligence, information security management, open source usage management, and license management. Learn more about David and Stairstep Consulting at


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