A worldwide sweep of over 350 organisations has exposed that many are found wanting when it comes to dealing with consumer complaints and are ill-equipped to handle data security incidents appropriately.
Organised by the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN) - which includes the UK Information Commissioner’s Office - the probe is carried out by data protection regulators across the globe and this year looks at how organisations have taken responsibility for complying with data protection laws.
Participating GPEN members made contact with 356 organisations in 18 countries during the sweep and found that, when it comes to monitoring internal performance in relation to data protection standards, many organisations fell short, with around a quarter who responded having no programmes in place to conduct self-assessments and/or internal audits.
While organisations were generally quite good at giving data protection training to staff, they often failed to provide refresher training to existing staff.
In addition, the organisations that indicated they have monitoring programmes in place generally gave examples of good practice, noting that they conduct annual audits or reviews and/or regular self-assessments.
Over half of the organisations surveyed also indicated that they have documented incident response procedures and that they maintain up to date records of all data security incidents and breaches. However, a number of indicated that they have no processes in place to respond appropriately in the event of a data security incident.
In terms of national findings, the UK ICO contacted 28 organisations across various sectors in the UK, and found that only 67% which provided a response said they conduct regular self-assessments or audits of internal data protection standards and practices, and only 67% indicated they maintain inventories of personal data held.
One positive note was that 100% of organisations in the UK who provided a response indicated that they felt they had someone within the organisation at a sufficiently senior level responsible for privacy governance and management.
ICO head of intelligence Adam Stevens said: "The findings suggest that while organisations contacted by the ICO and our international partners have a good understanding of the basic concept of accountability, in practice there is significant room for improvement.
"It is important that organisations have appropriate technical and organisational measures in place. This includes having clear data protection policies, taking a `data protection by design and default’ approach and continuing to review and monitor performance and adherence to data protection rules and regulations."