What Are The Key Principles Of Data Protection? (2023)

The importance of data security in business cannot be overstated.

The protection of personal data has become an increasingly important factor for businesses to consider in recent years, and the UK GDPR provides a comprehensive set of principles to ensure data is protected.

These data protection principles are designed to protect an individual’s rights, all while ensuring that businesses remain compliant with data protection regulations.

The seven key principles of UK GDPR set out by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) are:

1) Lawfulness, Transparency and Fairness

2) Purpose Limitation

3) Data Minimisation

4) Accuracy

5) Storage Limitation

6) Integrity and Confidentiality

7) Accountability

Let’s look at each one in more detail:

1) Lawfulness, Transparency and Fairness:

GDPR requires organisations to process personal data lawfully, transparently, and in a manner that is fair. This means that obtaining explicit consent for all data processing activities where appropriate is the first step of data protection in business.

But what does each term mean?

  • Lawfulness: There is a lawful basis for processing the personal information of data subjects, such as through explicit consent.
  • Transparency: Data controllers should ensure that data subjects are fully informed of how data is being collected and processed, so they can make an informed decision about the use of their data. Throughout the process, you must be open and honest, all while complying with the person’s right to be informed.
  • Fairness: Data controllers must process data in a fair manner and take into consideration ethical considerations when deciding how to use data. You have considered how the processing of information affects the individuals concerned and can justify any adverse impact. People are not to be misled to deceived, and you must also handle their data in a reasonable and respectful way.


Reasons to process this data include:

  1. The user has given you consent to process their data.
  2. The processing must be done to fulfil a legal obligation.
  3. Processing of information is to make good on a contract.
  4. That this processing is a public task done in the public interest.
  5. To protect the vital interest of a natural person.
  6. Prove data processing is necessary for the legitimate interests of the data controller or a third party.

2) Purpose Limitation:

The second GDPR principle requires organisations to only process personal data for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes.

Purpose limitation means that your purpose for processing data must be clearly established and that they must be clearly communicated to individuals via a privacy notice.

If you’d like to collect data for any other reason than the ones stated in the original privacy notice, you must ask for consent again – unless you have another lawful basis for processing data.

3) Data Minimisation:

Data protection laws state that businesses must only collect the smallest amount of data they’ll need to complete the desired purpose.

Otherwise known as data minimisation, organisations must ensure data is collected and processed in a way that’s not excessive.

Data minimisation also requires data controllers to store data only for as long as necessary, as well as making sure data remains accurate and up-to-date.

Any data that doesn’t relate to your stated purpose, such as phone number or address, should be avoided in your collection in order to meet GDPR rules.

4) Accuracy:

As mentioned in the last point, data controllers must maintain data accuracy to be compliant with the data protection act in business.

This means all data must be up-to-date, and incomplete or inaccurate data should be corrected or deleted.

All data subjects have the right to request rectification of their data at any time, especially if that data is incorrect.

At Trust Hogen, we recommend having regular audits on your company’s calendar to ensure the cleanliness of your stored data.

5) Storage Limitation:

UK GDPR require businesses to justify the lengths of time they store each piece of data, depending on the data subject’s rights.

Data controllers must also demonstrate that data is stored securely, with appropriate encryption and access restrictions in place where necessary.

Organisations should also have a data retention policy in place outlining which data can be kept for what duration and when data should be destroyed or deleted.

Data controllers must also delete data once the retention period has expired or when the data subject requests their data to be erased.

6) Integrity and Confidentiality:

All personal data should be kept secure from internal or external threats in order to maintain integrity and confidentiality.

Security measures should be implemented to protect data from unauthorised access or destruction, as well as accidental loss or alteration.

This principle requires data controllers to take into account data protection risks and be aware of any potential threats that may affect data security.

Organisations must also consider the safety of data when it is being transferred to a different data controller.

At Trust Hogen, we offer tailored GDPR and privacy training and awareness courses to ensure your staff are aware of data security measures and GDPR compliance.

GDPR is deliberately vague about what measures should be taken, but we recommend technical and organisational measures such as encryption, pseudonymisation, firewalls and access controls.

7) Accountability:

A level of accountability is essential with GDPR. Every organisation must be able to prove that they have appropriate measures and records in place to prove their compliance with data protection laws.

Accountability is more than just data protection by design and default, data controllers must also make sure that data is properly documented and that they have the appropriate policies in place.

This means data controllers should have data mapping activities in place to ensure data is tracked throughout its lifecycle, as well as privacy impact assessments to identify any potential risks.

One key way of demonstrating data protection in a business through accountability is with regular staff training and frequent security reviews.

Are there other principles to consider with UK GDPR?

While these technically aren’t principles of GDPR, the following points are integral factors to consider when processing any personal data.

Clear, transparent and accessible communication between your organisation and data subjects is essential. This includes making sure that you provide clear explanations of the ways in which personal data collected from individuals will be used.

Whenever you collect personal data from an individual, you must obtain explicit consent for all data processing activities, including the collection and storage of information such as names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses.

UK GDPR requires organisations to provide individuals with the right to access their personal data. This includes providing them with a copy of the data upon request, as well as the ability to correct any inaccuracies.

Businesses must also take additional steps to safeguard personal and sensitive information. This includes data encryption, data minimisation and pseudonymisation to ensure data is kept secure.

GDPR requires organisations to obtain explicit consent before sending any marketing materials, including emails, text messages and telemarketing calls.

Organisations must delete personal data when it is no longer necessary for the fulfilment of its intended purpose. This includes deleting all associated accounts, records and backups.

Every business must be transparent with individuals about their use of profiling and automated decision-making processes if they want to adhere to data protection laws. Everyone should be informed of their rights to object to the processing of their data and should have access to any personal data used for such purposes.

GDPR requires companies to notify regulators and affected individuals in the event of a data breach. In the event of a breach, businesses need to notify regulators within 72 hours of becoming aware and inform affected individuals without undue delay.

Within a privacy policy, organisations must inform individuals of the risks, rules and safeguards associated with the processing of their personal data. This includes providing them with clear and understandable information about any potential risks before they agree to give their consent.

Keep Personal Data Safe with Trust Hogen

Thank you for reading our post on the key UK GDPR and data protection principles.

To celebrate Data Protection Day on 28th January, Trust Hogen is dedicating a month of blog posts to data protection.

Additionally, our data protection experts are always on hand to help you ensure data security, privacy and transparency in your organisation. With the Trust Hogen data protection framework, you can be sure that data is managed responsibly and with respect for individuals’ rights.

Get in touch today to find out more about data protection laws and how we can help you keep your company’s personal data safe.