The concept of data minimization is when companies limit the data they collect, retain, and dispose of it once it is no longer needed. Some organizations can be hesitant to implement this concept because they feel that requiring data minimization could limit innovative uses of that data. However, it is also a widely-held belief that companies should consider reasonably limiting their data collection and retention – especially in the case of consumer data.

Instead of a “save everything” approach, some data managers are now embracing data minimization policies, keeping only the data deemed relevant and necessary. Even a data behemoth like Walmart only relies on the previous months’ worth of data as it applies to their merchandising strategies.

Data minimization can help alleviate certain privacy-related risks. Large stores of data present an attractive target for data thieves who may seek to access it either outside or inside an organization. If a company collects and retains such large amounts of data, there is also an increased risk that the legally collected data could be used in a way that it was not initially intended to be used or even illegally.

To minimize these risks and others, companies should regularly examine their data practices and business needs, then use the results to develop policies and practices that impose reasonable limits on the collection and retention of consumer data. Recognizing the need to balance the beneficial use of data with privacy protection, there are a few different, if not generalized, options. A company can decide not to collect data at all. Or they could collect only the data necessary to the product or service being offered. They could collect data that is less sensitive; or choose not to identify the data they collect. If a company determines that none of these options will fulfill its business goals, it can seek consumers’ consent for collecting additional, unexpected categories of data.

The value of data decreases very quickly, and storing it “just in case” is a dangerous path. Data minimization can also reduce operational costs. Storing data costs money, and no business can go on collecting and storing data indefinitely.

For information on how Capital Business Systems can help you implement a data minimization policy as part of a managed document service, please contact us.