When it comes to handling personal data, business owners and marketing experts have a lot to keep in mind. Privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Brazilian LGPD require organizations to determine the legal basis for processing individuals’ data. One of the most common and flexible legal bases for processing data is “legitimate interest.”
What is Legitimate Interest?
Essentially, legitimate interest allows organizations to process personal data if it is necessary for their purposes, as long as those purposes do not infringe upon the individual’s rights and interests. This can include things like direct marketing, fraud prevention, or risk management. However, it’s important to be mindful of the potential privacy impact on the individual, and to make sure they would reasonably expect their data to be used in that way.
To determine whether legitimate interest is the right legal basis for a specific data processing activity, it’s important to conduct a Legitimate Interest Assessment (LIA). This includes a purpose test, a necessity test, and a balancing test. The purpose test assesses whether processing the data is necessary for a specific purpose that is in the legitimate interests of the organization or a third party. The necessity test evaluates whether there are other less privacy-intrusive ways to achieve the same purpose. Lastly, the balancing test weighs the legitimate interests of the organization against the potential impact on the individual’s rights and preferences. Organizations must keep accurate records of their LIA and be able to demonstrate that they have conducted the assessment if required.
The Limitations of Legitimate Interest
Legitimate interest isn’t legal license to do whatever you want with a customer’s data. For example, it can’t be used for processing sensitive data (like health information) or for large-scale profiling. And if an individual objects to the processing, the organization must be able to demonstrate that their legitimate interests override the individual’s preferences.
Businesses must also be transparent with the data subjects about the processing activities that are based on legitimate interests. This includes providing clear and concise information about the processing, the legitimate interests pursued, and the data subject’s rights, including their right to object.
Legitimate interest provides a lot of flexibility when it comes to handling personal data, but it also comes with extra responsibility. It’s important to be transparent and clear about your reasons for processing data, and to take the time to conduct a LIA. And if you’re ever unsure whether legitimate interest is the right legal basis for a specific activity, it’s always best to consult with a privacy expert or your company attorney.
At 4Thought Marketing, we understand that navigating the complexities of privacy regulations can be overwhelming. That’s why we offer solutions that help businesses stay compliant and protect their customers’ data. If you want to learn more about how our privacy compliance software, 4Comply, can help you with legitimate interest and other privacy-related matters, don’t hesitate to contact us.