Matt Marum

Why SugarCRM developers should care about Data Privacy and GDPR

Blog Post created by Matt Marum Employee on Mar 19, 2018

Please don’t hate me. It’s not really my fault. I am sorry to say that every single Sugar developer needs to care about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and data privacy in general. It is a sign of the times and part of the interrelationship of technology and modern society that impacts the software we implement today and in the future.

 

I can explain but first let me provide some context.

 

What is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

 

First off, I am not a lawyer or a GDPR specialist. If you really want to understand what GDPR is and what steps you need to take to be compliant, then I suggest reading the Regulation for yourself or hiring counsel. GDPR is a complex set of rules, and there’s still a lot of debate about what it all really means. Other interpretations, including yours, may be different from what I describe below.

 

Many of our colleagues in the European Union are well acquainted with the GDPR which requires full compliance by May 25th, 2018. But for those of you who do not live in the European Union (EU), I highly recommend reading Data Privacy and GDPR in Sugar by Deepak Deolalikar. It covers some GDPR basics as well as provides an overview of some of the features planned in Sugar to help our customers comply with GDPR.

 

In short, the spirit of GDPR is about allowing individuals (data subjects) to have control over their own personal information. GDPR ensures that personal information or Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of EU citizens are processed responsibly. EU citizens have a right to privacy that in many cases means you must comply with their requests to access, restrict the use of, or delete the personal information that is stored about them.

 

The scope is broad and the penalties are severe. Any organization that stores personal information about EU citizens, even if that organization is based outside the EU such as in the United States, is subject to this regulation.

Penalties for failure to comply with these regulations could result in fines that start at €20 Million or 4% of total revenue if that value is greater.

 

Are you paying attention now?

 

Data Privacy is yet another software globalization requirement

 

When we build software, we make sure that it meets all sorts of requirements. We design for performance, scalability, and security. We work hard to ensure a positive user experience and high quality software. At SugarCRM, we also focus on making sure that all our products are ready for the global marketplace. That means that over the years we have invested in translations into dozens of languages and support for multiple currencies, numerous date and time formats, right-to-left languages, Unicode character encodings (though we’re still working on emojis), and 508 compliance.

 

The fact is that GDPR is just one example of a data privacy regulation at a time when there are dozens more government bodies all over the world considering and implementing new data privacy regulations. UTF-8 character encoding and a translatable UI are no longer enough to make sure your software is ready for the global marketplace! The responsible collection and processing of personal information is now an additional obligation for all software developers.

 

With the upcoming Sugar Spring ‘18 (cloud) and 8.0.0 (on premise) release, we are now investing in data privacy features. These features will help provide our customers with the tools they need to comply with GDPR and many other data privacy rules or regulations.

 

These data privacy features and other data privacy concerns will impact Sugar customizations and integrations that collect or process personally identifiable information (PII).

 

Future installments on Data Privacy and GDPR

 

We will be exploring several data privacy topics in the coming weeks. Here is a quick summary.

 

Collecting explicit consent before storing data in Sugar

 

GDPR has strict requirements for consent. Unless you have an existing lawful basis for using personal information, you need to collect positive and unambiguous consent from the data subject even before data is stored in Sugar. For example, a web to lead form with a pre-selected opt-in checkbox is not going to cut it in the EU. We will be exploring ways to make sure you are collecting explicit consent using techniques like double opt-in (DOI) or confirmed opt-in (COI).

 

Managing PII data and the right to erasure in Sugar

 

There are new Sugar APIs being added for working with PII as well as features that allow Sugar customers to comply with data subject requests like the right to access their own data and the right to erasure. In particular, external systems that integrate with Sugar may need to identify and implement their own erasure measures in compliance with a data subject request.

 

Improved change log and attribution of changes using Data Sources

 

We are implementing some enhancements in Sugar’s change log functionality to allow for finer grain tracking and proper attribution for changes to PII. We will be exploring these platform level enhancements including the ability to define new data sources (for example, an integration) that are responsible for changes to data.

 

What do you think?

 

What are some of your biggest data privacy or GDPR concerns? Let us know and we’ll try to address them in future posts.

 

Also, please follow this space and this blog to be sure you are notified when the next installment is posted!

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