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The privacy implications of more companies taking their business global 

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By Veerakumar Natarajan, Kenya Country Manager, Zoho Corp.

Expanding a business globally has become more attainable thanks to the advancements in logistics management. However, it is important to bear in mind crucial factors such as data protection and privacy concerns associated with international expansion. Companies risk violating regional laws and regulations if they do not properly secure their data protection and privacy measures. This puts their operation in jeopardy and could result in a loss of client trust and support if a data breach occurs.

Regulatory and legal compliance is a start; not an endpoint

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Ensuring that the company and its suppliers adhere to all relevant international data privacy laws and regulations is a crucial initial step. It is not appropriate to assume that laws and regulations are solely applicable in the markets where a business is actively operating. To illustrate, any company that serves an EU citizen, regardless of its location, must abide by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). For instance, consider a business located in Nairobi that only operates within the city but has a customer who is a national of the EU. In this case, the company must conform to both the Kenyan Data Protection Act (DPA) and the GDPR.

It is worth putting in the effort to be compliant with the privacy frameworks of all major markets. After all, the consequences for anyone found to be in violation of data and privacy regulations are potentially severe. DPA offenses come with fines up to KES. 3 million, or 10 years in jail. GDPR offenses, meanwhile, carry fines of up to €20 million or 4% of the total global turnover for the preceding fiscal year, whichever is higher.

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Businesses should include privacy and security checks during due diligence processes for software vendors.

To guarantee that organizations are well prepared for data protection, it is imperative to implement best practices in database maintenance, deploy robust cybersecurity solutions, and provide training to employees on the significance of data protection and privacy in the professional setting. These things need to happen on an ongoing basis with businesses adapting as new threats emerge.

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One area of vulnerability that businesses often overlook is the software and productivity tools they use. It is critical that businesses use tools from companies that are not only compliant with the relevant regulations, but treat data protection and privacy as a business imperative. Aside from tools and offerings with robust privacy measures, vendors should present a business model that is not dependent on ad revenue and data monetization. These proactive measures considerably reduce the chances of a data breach. With the average cost of a breach now at $4.35 million USD, that’s an investment worth making.

Data protection is a business imperative, especially for those that go global.

Taking your business global requires a higher level of accountability. Businesses of all sizes need to understand that they face many of the same types of challenges as major corporations, particularly when it comes to data security and privacy. It is imperative for companies to diligently strive towards providing the highest level of protection for their customers, which necessitates partnering with reputable software providers.

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