Data Controller

Definition & Meaning:

A Data Controller is an individual or organization that determines the purposes and means of processing personal data. In simpler terms, if you decide why and how personal data should be handled, you are acting as a Data Controller.

This role is important in the context of data protection laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, which set out obligations for how personal data must be collected, used, and protected.

For example, if you run an online store and collect customer information for billing and shipping, you’re a Data Controller because you decide what information is needed and what it’s used for.

The responsibilities of a Data Controller include ensuring that personal data is processed lawfully, transparently, and for a specific purpose. Once that purpose is fulfilled, the data should be deleted or anonymized.

Data Controllers must also implement measures to protect data from unauthorized access, loss, or damage. This could involve encrypting data, ensuring that only authorized personnel have access, and regularly updating security practices.

In addition, Data Controllers are required to respect individuals’ rights over their data, such as the right to access their data, correct inaccuracies, or request data deletion.

Being a Data Controller carries significant legal responsibilities, including the need to keep detailed records of data processing activities and, in some cases, appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) to oversee compliance with data protection laws.

In the event of a data breach, Data Controllers are usually required to notify the relevant regulatory authority and, in some situations, the individuals affected.