SOC 2 Privacy Criteria vs GDPR

Data Privacy has recently been the top focus point among many regulators around the globe.  With privacy regulation and compliance standards such as GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA enforced around the world in different regions, Data Privacy is today the buzzword in the industry.

With significant impact on most businesses, organizations are today proactive in adopting measures for Privacy by complying with regulations and standards such as GDPR and the AICPA’s SOC 2 Privacy requirement.

While SOC2 Privacy Criteria is one of five Trust Services Criteria by the AICPA in a System and Organization Control (SOC) 2 report, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an enforceable legislation that protects the Personal Data of citizens across all the European Union member states. They are popular standards established to address issues of information security and privacy which is prevalent globally.

 Explaining more about the two international standards and regulatory requirements in detail, in our article today we have explained whether or not SOC2 equals GDPR Requirements? For a better understanding let us first learn the similarities between SOC2 and GDPR. 

Similarities between SOC2 & GDPR Regulation

Assuming that an organization is subjected to the GDPR Regulation, the level of effort required for achieving compliance depends on the maturity of the organization’s privacy controls. Especially, when it comes to demonstrating the privacy controls, organizations can probably include the privacy criteria in the scope of their SOC 2 Type 2 audit report.

Many of the SOC2 Privacy Control requirements match the EU GDPR legislation. Having said that, let us today take a closer look at how SOC2 Privacy Criteria is similar to the GDPR Regulation. 

Title SOC2 Privacy Criteria GDPR Regulation
Objective  SOC2 Privacy criteria focus on implementing privacy controls to secure personal information.  GDPR is a regulation that focuses on protecting the privacy of the EU citizens’ personal information. 
Transparency in practice  SOC 2 Privacy criteria require the service organization to inform the data subject about their privacy practices through a privacy notice which includes details such as the type of personal information collected and purpose of collection and use of the data.  Similarly, the GDPR Regulation requires organizations to inform data subjects about the type of data collected, processed and its purpose within their privacy policy.
Consent  SOC 2 Privacy criteria require the organizations to obtain consent from the data subject regarding the collection, use, retention, disclosure, and disposal of their personal information.  Likewise, GDPR regulation too requires organizations to obtain consent by the data subject for the collecting and using personal data. Further, If the data subject’s personal information is processed beyond the original purpose, the organization is again required to obtain consent from the data subject.
Data processed and stored only to the point of organizational requirement The personal data collected should be limited to the requirement of the organization while ensuring it meets the organization’s privacy commitments and system requirements under the SOC 2 Privacy criteria.  The GDPR Regulation also clearly states that organizations must collect and process data limited to achieving their original purpose. 
Data Retention  As per the SOC2 Privacy Criteria, Personal Information should not be held any longer than it is needed to meet the organization’s objective.  Similarly, the GDPR Regulation also states that organizations should not retain personal data and delete them when it is no longer needed. 
Secure disposing of data  The Privacy Criteria clearly states that the data that is no longer in use must be disposed of securely at the end of the retention period.  GDPR Regulation also requires organizations to dispose of the collected personal data that is no longer in use. 
Data validation  SOC 2 Privacy criteria require the organization to validate the accuracy of the data subject’s information by allowing the data subject to update their data as necessary, and by performing adequate due diligence on data gathered from third parties. Likewise, the GDPR Regulation requires organizations to take the necessary steps to update or correct the data by giving data subjects the right to correct their inaccurate personal data.
Integrity and Confidentiality of the data SOC 2 Privacy criteria require that personal data is appropriately secured to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of the data.  GDPR Regulation also requires organizations to take appropriate measures to secure the integrity and confidentiality of data by encrypting and/or anonymizing the data. 
Notification of Data Breach In case of an incident of a data breach, the SOC2 privacy criteria require organizations to notify the data subject and concerned authority about the same.  Similarly, in the case of a data breach GDPR also requires organizations to notify individuals and the concerned authority about the data breach.  

Conclusion

Protecting Personal Data is important to ensure the Privacy and Confidentiality of the Personal Data. While SOC2 Privacy criteria and the GDPR Regulation both aim at protecting the privacy of Personal Data, it is important to understand that neither of the two are replaceable in place of the other.

This means being SOC2 Compliant cannot completely rule out the need for GDPR. While SOC2 Privacy criteria is just a small portion that covers Data Privacy norms in its Standard requirements, GDPR Regulation covers a broader scope concerning Data Privacy. The regulation is detailed and much more specific about the organization’s practices of ensuring Data Privacy. 

However, it does minimize efforts of achieving compliance as quite a few requirements in both GDPR and SOC2 Privacy criteria overlap. This will definitely help ease the journey of Compliance for organizations looking to achieve it.

But, the organization may require a bit of alteration in Policies, Procedure, and Framework to achieve Compliance if they happen to have a SOC2 Attestation. With this, it also answers the query that SOC2 does not 100 % equal the GDPR requirements, but definitely covers some key parts of it in its criteria. 

Narendra Sahoo
Narendra Sahoo

Narendra Sahoo (PCI QSA, PCI QPA, CISSP, CISA, and CRISC) is the Founder and Director of VISTA InfoSec, a global Information Security Consulting firm, based in the US, Singapore & India. Mr. Sahoo holds more than 25 years of experience in the IT Industry, with expertise in Information Risk Consulting, Assessment, & Compliance services. VISTA InfoSec specializes in Information Security audit, consulting and certification services which include GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, NESA, MAS-TRM, PCI DSS Compliance & Audit, PCI PIN, SOC2 Compliance & Audit, PDPA, PDPB to name a few. The company has for years (since 2004) worked with organizations across the globe to address the Regulatory and Information Security challenges in their industry. VISTA InfoSec has been instrumental in helping top multinational companies achieve compliance and secure their IT infrastructure.