The Case for Accountability: How it Enables Effective Data Protection and Trust in the Digital Society

Centre for Information Policy Leadership: “Accountability now has broad international support and has been adopted in many laws, including in the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), regulatory policies and organisational practices. It is essential that there is consensus and clarity on the precise meaning and application of organisational accountability among all stakeholders, including organisations implementing accountability and data protection authorities (DPAs) overseeing accountability.

Without such consensus, organisations will not know what DPAs expect of them and DPAs will not know how to assess organisations’ accountability-based privacy programs with any degree of consistency and predictability. Thus, drawing from the global experience with accountability to date and from the Centre for Information Policy Leadership’s (CIPL) own extensive prior work on accountability, this paper seeks to explain the following issues:

  • The concept of organisational accountability and how it is reflected in the GDPR;
  • The essential elements of accountability and how the requirements of the GDPR (and of other normative frameworks) map to these elements;
  • Global acceptance and adoption of accountability;
  • How organisations can implement accountability (including by and between controllers and processors) through comprehensive internal privacy programs that implement external rules or the organisation’s own data protection policies and goals, or through verified or certified accountability mechanisms, such as Binding Corporate Rules (BCR), APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR), APEC Privacy Recognition for Processors (PRP), other seals and certifications, including future GDPR certifications and codes of conduct; and
  • The benefits that accountability can deliver to each stakeholder group.

In addition, the paper argues that accountability exists along a spectrum, ranging from basic accountability requirements required by law (such as under the GDPR) to stronger and more granular accountability measures that may not be required by law but that organisations may nevertheless want to implement because they convey substantial benefits….(More)”.