Data Privacy vs Data Security: What is the Core Difference

It is a common misconception that ‘data privacy’ and ‘data security’ are synonyms. However, with different set of guidelines, technologies, expertise and know how required, both the concepts entail a difference in understanding and further implementation. Though used interchangeably being used for subjectively protecting an individual’s information unique to them, the difference primarily lies in two questions- from whom to protect personal data and how to protect personal data.

Data Privacy

Data Privacy is the protecting of personal data while processing. The word ‘processing’ covers a broad range of activities including collection, recording, organization, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, disclosure by transmission, dissemination, destruction etc. of personal data. Acquiring data privacy services ensures that any processing of personal data done, is in accordance with the consent given by the concerned Data Subjects. The consent obtained should ordinarily be for the processing of data only to the extent necessary for conducting the business of the controller. Apart from consent, a lawful or a contractual basis could also entail a legal processing of personal data.

Data Privacy is thus, focused on making sure that personal data is protected from Data Controllers or Processors by ensuring that the personal data is not processed for extraneous reasons which would harm the data subject. Data Privacy is the ensuring of protection by implementing privacy policies and other control procedures in compliance of different Data Protection laws around the world, irrespective of where the data subject resides.

Data Security

Data Security is the actions used for protecting personal data of a data subject from unauthorized access. This includes ensuring that personal data is protected from hacking attacks, phishing, leakages and other kinds of breaches which can harm the data subject. It requires data controllers to implement strong security protocols such as firewalls, anti-viruses, encryption, etc as security measures which ensure the protection of data. Delineating who is authorized to access personal data in the data controller’s organization also falls under the scope of Data Security.


Data PrivacyData Security
Data privacy best practices include ensuring helping users give informed content by formulating easy to read privacy policy, maintaining transparency in operations by clearly communicating how data is being processed, transferring data to processors only if they have adequate privacy and security protocols, collecting data only to the extent necessary etc.  Data Security best practices include requiring data subjects and employees to use strong passwords, encryption of data, implementing firewalls, and using multi-factor user authentication etc., for protection of data.
Data Privacy is user centric as it focuses on giving control of personal data to the data subject. Data security is more controller based since personal data is shielded from unauthorized access.
Data Privacy is concerned with protecting personal data from being processed in an unauthorized manner by the data controller itself. Data Security is focused on preventing third parties from accessing data unlawfully.
Data Privacy is ensured by robust privacy policies, obtaining the consent of data subjects and complying with data privacy laws. Data Security is ensured by implementing technologies such as firewall protection, encryption, masking etc., to ensure the protection of personal data of a data subject.
Implanting good data privacy practice requires knowledge of the law. Implementing good Data Security practice requires technical knowledge.  


Both, Data Security and Data Privacy are essential for protecting Data Subject’s personal identity. It is impossible to have one without the other. Ensuring personal data is being processed only for lawful means is not of much use if unauthorized parties can access and misuse such data. Similarly, having robust data security and collecting user’s personal data without consent again interferes with their right to privacy. Therefore, for ensuring holistic protection of data subject’s privacy from the controller and third parties, controllers should implement robust data privacy as well as security measures.

Our data privacy services will help to ensure protection by implementation of appropriate controls and procedures to enable protection of personal data of the data subjects.

Disclaimer: This blog is the copyright of Reina Consulting LLP. It is not intended to be a form of solicitation or advertising. The information contained herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is viewed or that it will continue to be accurate thereafter. No person should act on such information without appropriate professional advice based on the circumstances of a particular situation. This information is not to be considered as legal advice or opinion and the firm shall not be liable for any action taken by the user, directly or indirectly, on the basis of such material.

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