Understanding the Impact of European Privacy Regulation on Analytics

Discover how Amplitude helps businesses navigate privacy regulations while unlocking valuable insights from customer data.

Best Practices
June 23, 2023
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Patrick Thompson
Director of Product Management, Amplitude
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It's been five years since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect, and since then, many more regulations have emerged. In a recent article, we wrote about the intensification of privacy-related enforcement in the EU, evident through hefty fines levied against tech giants. Most recently, Meta was fined €1.2 billion for breaching EU data protection rules.

In today's data-driven world, where companies process massive amounts of customer data, the potential for informed decision-making, innovation, and industry leadership is immense. Analytics plays a crucial role in unlocking hidden patterns, trends, and opportunities within this wealth of information.

However, privacy considerations have become increasingly important in this landscape. The introduction of the GDPR has impacted data collection and usage. GDPR sets strict guidelines to protect individual privacy rights and imposes significant restrictions on how companies can gather, process, and utilize customer data.

As a result, the tools and solutions used to extract valuable customer insights must operate in compliance with GDPR while addressing the unique needs of each business. Achieving the delicate balance between data privacy and business requirements is a challenging task that requires careful consideration and meticulous implementation. This is where Amplitude can help.

Privacy regulations are designed to protect consumers' data and provide them with rights such as access, erasure, and consent management. Companies must comply with these regulations while still generating insights from customer behavior. Non-compliance can result in reputational damage and fines.

As an analytics provider, Amplitude is committed to ensuring data privacy for our customers and their end-users. We provide the tools and resources necessary to stay compliant with applicable data privacy laws.

Let's examine key elements of privacy regulation, understand their implications for analytics, and review our recommendations to help you adhere to these laws.

Table of contents
  1. Data Residency
  2. The Right To Be Forgotten
  3. Data Subject Access Requests
  4. Data Collection Best Practices

Data residency

One of the largest and most obvious implications for GDPR is around data residency requirements, or in other words, where you are storing your end-users data. Under GDPR, companies that handle the personal data of EU citizens are required to store and process that data within the EU or take other measures to ensure adequate data protection. At Amplitude, we launched our EU Data Center in Germany in 2021 to allow companies to store their end-user data within the EU. This allows organizations to define where their end-user data is stored and gives them the control they need to adhere to data residency requirements.

The right to be forgotten

Privacy regulations give end-users control over their personal data by allowing them to request that their data be deleted. This right has significant implications for teams because it can reduce the data available for analysis. As such, companies must develop strategies for dealing with these requests while gathering critical information to propel their businesses forward. Amplitude offers APIs for managing data deletion requests and integrates these requests into consent management platforms (CMPs) to help automate compliance and privacy.

Data subject access requests

In addition to the right to be forgotten, end-users have the right to access their personal data being processed by an organization, including how this data is being used, who it is being shared with, and how long it will be retained. Organizations are required to respond to these requests within one month for GDPR and 45 days for CCPA and provide the data in an easily understandable format. Amplitude also offers APIs for automating data subject access requests and can integrate into your existing compliance workflow.

Data collection best practices

One of the most important areas for compliance is establishing data collection best practices for your organization. It's worth noting that Amplitude needs minimal personal information (PII) data to fulfill this requirement.

Providing a mechanism to collect, manage, and honor end-user consent preferences is imperative. Privacy regulations require companies to be transparent about collecting and using customer data. Companies must provide detailed information about what types of data they are collecting and how they plan to use it. For example, Amplitude is often used for the following purposes:

  • Analytics: Amplitude lets customers capture end-user data to generate behavioral insights and understand business performance.
  • Advertising and Marketing: Amplitude CDP and Experiment allow customers to create personalized experiences based on end-user behavior.

Unless you have consent from your end-users, you should limit tracking to only business essential activities. Amplitude helps you meet your privacy obligations by making it easy for end-users to opt out of tracking anytime. This transparency helps build trust between companies and end-users, improving relationships over time.

2) Tracking customer data

One of the benefits of Amplitude versus other solutions is that we don't capture any customer data by default (for example, via auto-tagging). Companies that track data by default typically track every piece of data the minute you add code to your digital property. Capturing customer data by default can lead to data quality issues and unwanted PII data without the explicit consent of the end-user and knowledge of the company. Amplitude enables customers to select what data to send (or not), empowering them to make informed privacy decisions. Additionally, you can configure Amplitude to reject unexpected data not in your Tracking Plan, giving you strict control over what data is being captured.

3) Governance process

It's worth creating a regular governance process to audit your customer data and map how this data is being used within your organization, how it flows between other systems, and how long data is being retained. Within Amplitude, you can easily approve what data is being captured about your end-users, see how this data is being analyzed, and what employees are accessing this data. You can configure a data retention policy to remove data after a certain time automatically. And categorize and restrict access to sensitive data based on policy. If any unwanted data is ingested into Amplitude, you can always remove this data after the fact.

What's next?

Privacy regulations are becoming increasingly important as more countries and states implement laws designed to protect consumers’ personal data. Teams need to understand how these laws impact their ability to collect and use customer data without running afoul. By understanding the various components of privacy regulation—such as the right to be forgotten, data subject access requests, and data collection best practices — teams can ensure they are compliant with these regulations while still driving growth for their business responsibly.

At Amplitude, we take data security seriously—to take the burden off of you. Rather than worrying about data standards and data storage, you can concentrate on the benefits of data analytics and digital transformation. Sign up for free to get started on your data governance journey.

You can learn more about Amplitude's stance on privacy and security and review our DPA and terms of service.

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About the Author
Image of Patrick Thompson
Patrick Thompson
Director of Product Management, Amplitude
Patrick Thompson is the director of product for Amplitude and co-founded Iteratively, acquired by Amplitude. Previously, he was design manager at Atlassian and lead designer at Syncplicity.

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