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Using Microsoft 365 to Stay Compliant with Data Privacy Laws

  • eDiscovery
  • 5 Mins
Data privacy laws are popping up everywhere. Two years after the EU implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), providing individuals with significant control over their data and harsh penalties for organizations that do not comply. Stateside, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Both of these regulations provide consumers access and control over their personal information as well as allow them to have a say in how organizations collect, use, and disseminate their data. 


Data Privacy Laws are Growing

Other countries, like India and Brazil, have also followed this data privacy trend and are implementing their own versions of strict data privacy laws. With these changes, data compliance should be on the top of every organization’s priority list. Since we live in a data-driven society, most corporate businesses will be subject to one or several of these data privacy laws. While data compliance cost is surely a concern, the good news is that organizations may be able to use their current technology investments to help protect data and meet compliance obligations, which will save money.

Cloud Computing and Data Security

Numerous organizations use cloud-based solutions for daily operations. For example, Microsoft Office 365 (Microsoft 365) is a popular subscription that offers the latest version of the Office apps and as well as cloud storage features. Both offerings fall all under the user's main account. Users can access, save, and edit documents or other media across several devices, all in real time. For example, someone could create a PowerPoint presentation on their work computer and later, access the working draft from their home laptop or mobile device pick up where they left off at work. Luckily, solutions like Microsoft 365 already have features that can help with data privacy and cybersecurity compliance efforts.

Data Organization with Microsoft 365

A vital part of being compliant with privacy laws like the GDPR and CCPA is knowing where data is located. If an individual makes a data subject access request (DSAR) to an organization and asks for a list of all the data the organization owns with their information, the organization will need to identify and disclose the data without undue delay. It can be hard for organizations to keep track of all their data due to the multitude of devices and servers that employees and customers use daily. Being able to confidently know where data resides and locate it swiftly is crucial for adequate compliance. Organizations can use Microsoft 365 to audit, analyze, and organize data to make DSAR responses easier. Tools like compliance manager, content search, and data retention labels can assist users with these data management tasks. Besides quicker data retrieval, having a managed data tool also makes risk assessment and data breach response more efficient and less damaging, while also creating a comprehensive retention policy and strategy. 


Privacy laws require that organizations take steps to safeguard sensitive consumer data and many cloud-based solutions contain features that can help safeguard this sensitive data. If organizations do not adequately protect data, they could face serious penalties and a damaged reputation, which then, could cause revenue loss and decreased client retention. Microsoft 365 offers safeguards to protect sensitive data. Specifically, it offers advanced encryption, threat protection security, and data loss prevention options to help detect sensitive information and keep it secure. 


Being able to utilize technology that organizations already pay for is an attractive benefit, especially because compliance can be costly, depending on the state of the organization’s current privacy systems and protocols. California estimated that CCPA compliance efforts will be a large investment to organizations that need to comply, coming in the millions for larger corporations. Organizations subject to any privacy laws should:

-    Review current investments to determine if they can use or upgrade them for compliance efforts. Microsoft 365 and other cloud technology offering similar functions are a good place to start.
-    Review and analyze the offerings of current systems, encryption services, and AI software.
-    Determine what other actions are needed to be proactive about privacy compliance, e.g. creating new jobs, updating employee roles within the company, and purchasing additional security software.

Read more about how your organization can put strong information governance policy in place with Microsoft 365 and Epiq here: Epiq and Microsoft Office 365

If you found this blog informative, you may enjoy reading FTC Update: Agency Continues to Crack Down on Privacy Violations or the Epiq Angle Blog.

The contents of this article are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions.

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