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Do I Need to Issue Suppliers a Privacy Policy?

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A privacy policy is crucial for data controllers to ensure compliance with mandatory legal rules under the UK data protection law regime. An organisation should issue a thorough privacy policy to inform individuals how and why it will use their data if it acts as a data controller. Businesses acting as data controllers often collect and process personal data relating to third-party suppliers, such as personal details about their staff. This article will explore whether a controller must provide suppliers with a privacy policy. 

Why Is a Privacy Policy a Key Compliance Document?

Understanding the significance of privacy information is vital to complying with the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) rules. 

Personal data, encompassing a range of details such as addresses, names, and surnames, includes any information enabling identifying a living individual, whether directly or indirectly. 

Under UK data protection law, a data controller is a person, public authority, agency, or other body determining the purposes and means of processing personal data.

A fundamental obligation of data controllers under the UK GDPR is to provide individuals with comprehensive information when collecting personal data. Issuing a privacy policy is critical to ensuring transparency regarding personal data use. A privacy policy is a document which explains how and why a controller processes an individual’s personal data. 

Data controllers must prominently display or provide privacy policies when collecting individuals’ data. A privacy policy should incorporate several essential details such as the types of personal data the organisation will use, intended purposes of processing, data retention periods, third-party data recipient information, and measures for safeguarding personal data. 

Does Your Business Need to Issue Suppliers With a Privacy Policy?

While suppliers are often businesses, protecting individuals’ personal data should not be overlooked.

For instance, your business may collect various personal data from suppliers such as:

  • the names of supplier directors or members of staff; and
  • supplier staff contact details such as email addresses, including their names and phone numbers. 

Your business may also collect other types of personal information, such as financial details, employment information and nationality. 

Although suppliers are typically businesses, the UK GDPR rules will still apply to any personal data a controller processes about the supplier’s directors, staff or other representatives who are living individuals.

Where a data controller collects personal details from suppliers that fall within the scope of the UK GDPR rules, it must comply with the UK GDPR transparency requirements. For instance, if a controller collects certain supplier information such as names, emails, job titles, and history, it will likely be deemed personal data that the controller uses for its own purposes. As such, individuals at the supplier business whose data is processed should be issued with a privacy policy to clarify data usage. 

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Which Types of Information Should I Provide and How?

There are various ways to provide and display a supplier privacy policy. For instance, a business may publish a website privacy policy with a section detailing how they handle and use supplier personal data. Or, issue a separate supplier privacy policy aimed just at suppliers as part of the supplier procurement process. 

The privacy policy should cover a range of crucial information regarding the use of supplier personal data, including:

  • which types of supplier personal data it uses and why; 
  • the legal basis for processing supplier data;
  • how long the company will retain supplier personal data, and timescales for deletion;
  • whether the company will share supplier data with external third parties, such as sub-processors; 
  • whether the company will transfer supplier data to any countries outside of the UK; and
  • information about the rights of data subjects, such as the right to a subject access request.

A supplier privacy policy should not be generic – it should be tailored to cover the specific types of personal data processed about individuals at the supplier and why. 

A robust and well-drafted privacy policy will help an organisation demonstrate its commitment to UK GDPR compliance, help suppliers understand how a company will use their personal data and help gain trust through transparency. As such, businesses should ensure they remember to provide suppliers with this vital information and not neglect this obligation. 

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Often, this can be an area that businesses overlook, given that they focus on customer data only. If you need advice on whether you need a supplier privacy policy, you should seek guidance from a data protection solicitor to assist you. 

Key Takeaways

Under the UK GDPR, data controllers must comply with their obligations to all individuals who process personal data, including suppliers, customers, and consumers. 

Imagine a data controller collecting a range of personal data from suppliers (e.g., employee names or contact details). In that case, they must provide a clear privacy policy outlining how they will use and safeguard such personal information. By issuing suppliers a privacy policy, data controllers can demonstrate their accountability and compliance with the UK GDPR rules. Further, they can foster trust around their data handling practices and assure suppliers of legally compliant and safe data handling. 

If you need help with a supplier privacy policy, our experienced data, privacy, and IT lawyers can assist you as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0808 196 8584 or visit our membership page.

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Sej Lamba

Sej Lamba

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