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February 8, 2024
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 min read

Guide to GDPR Privacy by Design and Default: Checklist

Guide to GDPR Privacy by Design and Default: Comprehensive Checklist

Guide to GDPR Privacy by Design and Default: Checklist
Calendar Icon White
February 8, 2024
Clock Icon
 min read

Guide to GDPR Privacy by Design and Default: Checklist

Guide to GDPR Privacy by Design and Default: Comprehensive Checklist


  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) emphasizes the concept of Privacy by Design and by Default.
  • There are seven key principles of Privacy by Design under GDPR, including proactive prevention, privacy as the default setting, and end-to-end security.
  • To comply with Privacy by Design and Default, organizations should conduct privacy impact assessments, implement data minimization, ensure transparency, enable user privacy controls, and regularly update privacy measures and policies.
  • Learn how Strac helps companies implement GDPR's Privacy by Design and Default with rich examples

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has redefined the landscape of data protection and privacy in the European Union and beyond. A cornerstone of this regulation is the concept of "Privacy by Design and by Default." This principle not only mandates the integration of data protection from the onset of the designing of systems but also ensures that privacy settings are set at their highest by default. In this blog post, we'll dive deep into what Privacy by Design and Default under GDPR entails, outline its key principles, provide a handy checklist for compliance, and illustrate with examples how businesses are applying these concepts in practice.

What is Privacy by Design under GDPR?

Privacy by Design is an approach that calls for privacy to be taken into account throughout the entire process of designing, developing, and delivering products or services that process personal data. Rather than being an add-on or an afterthought, privacy is embedded into the system right from the start.

Privacy by Design and Default: A Dual Principle

The GDPR elevates the concept of Privacy by Design by pairing it with the principle of "Privacy by Default." This means that, beyond designing systems with privacy in mind, the default settings for any service or product must be the most privacy-friendly. This dual principle ensures that personal data is protected automatically and that users' privacy is respected without requiring them to make adjustments.

The Seven Principles of Privacy by Design under GDPR

  1. Proactive not Reactive; Preventative not Remedial: Anticipate and prevent privacy invasive events before they happen.
  2. Privacy as the Default Setting: Ensure that personal data is automatically protected in all IT systems or business practices.
  3. Privacy Embedded into Design: Integrate privacy into the design and architecture of IT systems and business practices.
  4. Full Functionality – Positive-Sum, not Zero-Sum: Avoid trade-offs between privacy and security, ensuring both can be achieved without diminishing either.
  5. End-to-End Security – Full Lifecycle Protection: Protect data from the moment it is collected until its final destruction.
  6. Visibility and Transparency – Keep it Open: Ensure that all stakeholders know the how and why of data processing.
  7. Respect for User Privacy – Keep it User-Centric: Prioritize user privacy and give users control over their personal data.

GDPR Privacy by Design Checklist

To help organizations comply with the Privacy by Design and Default principle, here’s a comprehensive checklist:

Conduct Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) to identify and mitigate privacy risks at the beginning of any new project or when changing data processing activities.

Implement Data Minimization by only collecting data necessary for the specified purpose.

  • Example: Consider a scenario where an organization frequently exchanges emails containing personally identifiable information (PII) with external partners. Strac's M365 DLP or Strac Gmail DLP solution could be configured to automatically scan all outgoing emails from the organization's domain OR incoming emails. Upon detecting PII or PHI or PCI or any sensitive data, Strac could apply tokenization or pseudonymization to the data before the email is sent. This ensures that only necessary data is shared, and the real identities are protected, aligning with the data minimization principle.

Ensure Transparency by clearly communicating with users about how their data is used, stored, and protected.

  • Example: In environments where Slack or Microsoft Teams are used for internal communication, Strac's DLP can play a crucial role in ensuring transparency in data processing. When sensitive information is shared within a message or file, Strac can automatically apply masking or redaction. The system can notify both the sender and the recipient about the action taken, explaining why the data was altered. This not only protects sensitive information but also raises awareness among employees about data privacy practices, fostering a culture of transparency and compliance.
Strac DLP for Slack, Teams

Adopt Strong Encryption and other security measures for data at rest and in transit.

  • Example: In an organization where employees often work with sensitive customer data across different applications, Strac's Endpoint DLP can continuously monitor data handling on all devices (Mac, Windows, Linux). If an employee attempts to transfer sensitive data to an unauthorized external storage device or application, Strac can automatically redact or mask the sensitive portions of the data, ensuring that only minimal necessary data is exposed and reducing the risk of data breaches.

Enable User Privacy Controls to allow individuals to manage their personal information easily.

  • Example 1: Organizations use cloud storage services like Google Drive and OneDrive to store and share documents containing sensitive information. Strac's DLP solution can be integrated with these platforms to automatically scan documents for sensitive data. When such data is found, Strac can apply redaction or encryption, based on the organization's policies. Additionally, Strac enables users to control the level of data protection by allowing them to tag documents as containing sensitive information, prompting Strac to apply more stringent protection measures automatically. This not only protects sensitive data but also empowers users with direct control over their data's privacy.
  • Example 2: With the increasing trend of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), employees often access corporate data from personal devices. Strac's Endpoint DLP solution can be installed on these devices to monitor for the transfer or storage of sensitive data. If an employee tries to save a document containing sensitive information to a non-secured location, Strac can automatically encrypt the file or anonymize sensitive details. This approach ensures that user privacy controls extend beyond the corporate network, safeguarding data across all endpoints while respecting user autonomy and privacy preferences.

Design Systems with the Ability to Ensure Data Accuracy, and provide users with the means to update or correct their data.

Ensure Data Anonymization where possible to protect privacy.

  • Example : A company uses customer support platforms like Zendesk and Salesforce to interact with customers. Strac's DLP solution integrates with these platforms to monitor for sensitive data in support tickets and conversations. When sensitive data is identified, Strac can pseudonymize this information in the records. This action is logged and can be reviewed in compliance reports, which contributes to transparency by showing how customer data is processed and protected, thus maintaining the trust of customers and regulators. Checkout Strac Zendesk DLP or Strac Salesforce DLP for more details.

Evaluate Third-party Services for compliance with GDPR principles before integration.

Train Employees on the importance of privacy and data protection.

Regularly Update and Review privacy measures and policies to adapt to new challenges and technologies.

Privacy by Design GDPR Examples

Privacy by Design Example: Customer Support Interaction

Context: A telecommunications company uses a customer support platform like Zendesk or Salesforce to handle customer queries and issues. Given the nature of the business, support interactions often involve the exchange of sensitive customer information, such as addresses, phone numbers, and billing details.

Implementation of Redaction/Masking:

  1. Automated Sensitive Data Identification: As soon as a customer submits a support ticket or engages in a chat, Strac's DLP solution scans the content for sensitive information. This includes personally identifiable information (PII) like names, email addresses, physical addresses, and payment information.
  2. Redaction/Masking in Action: Upon detecting sensitive data within a support ticket or chat transcript, the DLP tool automatically applies redaction or masking to the identified information. For example, if a customer inadvertently includes their credit card number in a support ticket, the DLP system replaces the digits with placeholders (e.g., "XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-1234") before the ticket is stored in the database or viewed by support staff.
  3. Secure Access for Necessary Personnel: In cases where specific support staff need access to the redacted or masked information for verification or troubleshooting purposes, Strac's DLP solution can provide controlled access based on predefined roles and permissions. This ensures that only authorized personnel can view the full details, and even then, under strict logging and auditing to maintain accountability.
  4. Training and Awareness: The company trains its customer support staff on the importance of data privacy and the role of redaction and masking in protecting customer information. This includes guidelines on how to handle situations where sensitive data needs to be shared securely.
  5. Customer Communication: Customers are informed about the company's data protection practices, including the use of redaction and masking in support interactions, through clear and transparent privacy policies. This enhances trust and reassures customers about the safety of their personal information.
Strac DLP for Customer Support (Zendesk, Intercom, Salesforce, FreshDesk, etc.)


  • Enhanced Privacy and Compliance: This approach aligns with the GDPR's Privacy by Design principles by minimizing the risk of sensitive data exposure and ensuring that privacy measures are embedded into the customer support process.
  • Maintained Functionality: Customer support operations can continue efficiently, with staff able to access necessary information in a secure manner, ensuring that customer queries are resolved effectively.
  • Increased Customer Trust: By demonstrating a commitment to protecting personal information, the company builds stronger trust with its customers, which is crucial for customer retention and satisfaction.

This example showcases how implementing redaction or masking within customer support interactions is a practical and effective way to embody Privacy by Design principles, ensuring GDPR compliance while maintaining high standards of customer service.

GDPR Privacy by Design Article and Enforcement

Article 25 of the GDPR explicitly outlines the obligations of data controllers to implement Privacy by Design and Default. Compliance is not optional, and failure to adhere can result in significant penalties, highlighting the importance of integrating these principles into every facet of data processing activities.

Strac Solution to GDPR Privacy by Design And Default

Strac's Software as a Service (SaaS) and Endpoint Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions represent a cutting-edge approach to safeguarding sensitive data across a wide array of communication channels and platforms. By implementing advanced remediation techniques such as redaction, masking, pseudonymization, and tokenization, Strac ensures that organizations can meet compliance requirements, protect user privacy, and mitigate the risk of data breaches. Here's an overview of how Strac's DLP solutions can be applied across various platforms and channels:

Email Platforms (Gmail, O365)

  • Automated Detection and Remediation: Strac's DLP tools automatically scan outgoing and incoming emails for sensitive data. If such data is detected, the system can redact information, apply masking, or pseudonymize details before the email is sent or received, ensuring that sensitive information remains confidential.
Strac DLP for Email (Gmail, M365)

Customer Support Tools (Salesforce, Zendesk, HubSpot, FreshDesk, Intercom, Kustomer)

  • Protecting Customer Data: Customer support interactions often involve the exchange of sensitive information. Strac's solution can monitor and remediate sensitive data in real-time, ensuring that customer information shared during support interactions remains secure and private.

Team Collaborative Messaging Apps (Slack, Teams)

  • Secure Communications: In the fast-paced environment of collaborative messaging apps, Strac's DLP ensures that any sensitive data shared inadvertently is quickly identified and remediated, maintaining the integrity of internal communications without disrupting workflow.

Cloud Storage (Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive, SharePoint)

  • Secure File Storage and Sharing: Strac's technology can scan files stored and shared in cloud storage platforms, applying redaction or encryption as needed to protect sensitive information, thus preventing unauthorized access or leaks.

AI Applications (ChatGPT, Google Bard, Microsoft CoPilot)

  • AI Ethics and Compliance: With the rise of AI tools, maintaining data privacy becomes even more critical. Strac's DLP solutions can be integrated to ensure that inputs and outputs from AI applications are monitored and remediated for sensitive data, aligning with GDPR and other privacy regulations.

Wiki Platforms (Notion, Jira, Confluence)

  • Knowledge Base Protection: Wikis and documentation platforms are central repositories of organizational knowledge. Strac helps secure these platforms by detecting and remediating sensitive data, ensuring that internal documents do not become sources of data leaks.

Endpoints (Mac, Windows, Linux)

  • Comprehensive Endpoint Security: Endpoints are often the source of data leaks, whether through accidental sharing or malicious intent. Strac's endpoint DLP capabilities ensure that sensitive data is protected directly on users' devices, with the ability to remediate data in real-time across operating systems.
Strac Endpoint DLP for Mac, Windows, Linux

By providing a comprehensive suite of DLP solutions that span across the most widely used communication and storage platforms, Strac enables organizations to adopt a Privacy by Design approach. This proactive stance on privacy ensures that sensitive data is automatically detected and protected, regardless of where it resides or how it's communicated. Strac's solution empowers organizations to maintain high standards of data protection and compliance, safeguarding their reputation and the trust of their customers and employees.


Privacy by Design and by Default is not just a regulatory requirement under GDPR; it's a commitment to user privacy and data protection from the ground up. By following the outlined principles and checklist, organizations can ensure they not only comply with GDPR but also demonstrate to their customers a genuine respect for their privacy. In an era where data breaches are all too common, adopting these practices isn't just good compliance; it's good business.

Founder, Strac. ex-Amazon Payments Infrastructure (Widget, API, Security) Builder for 11 years.

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