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Our second article in our global data privacy principles series looks at the Principle Of Data Minimisation and its benefits.

If you missed the first article covering the principle of Purpose Limitation click here.

Within Global business operations, data has become the lifeblood of businesses and organisations. However, the unfettered accumulation of data can lead to a chaotic, cluttered landscape akin to a hoarder’s lair. To address this concern and prioritise data privacy, all global data regulations emphasise the principle of data minimisation. This principle underscores the significance of collecting only the necessary personal data for specific purposes whilst ensuring its timely disposal. Beyond regulatory compliance, data minimisation offers many benefits to businesses, fostering efficiency, sustainability, and trust.


Defining Data Minimisation

As defined by global privacy regulations, data minimisation requires personal data to be “adequate, relevant, and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed.” In essence, businesses should collect only essential information and retain it for as long as required to fulfil a specific purpose. A robust data lifecycle management strategy can be the centre of data minimisation.


Benefits of the Data Minimisation Principle

  1. Saving Money by Reducing Data Storage: Data storage can be costly, with server space, maintenance, and data security expenses. Embracing data minimisation practices significantly reduces storage costs, allowing businesses to allocate resources more efficiently.
  2. Reducing Ecological Impact by Saving Energy: Large data centres consume substantial energy. By minimising data storage, businesses contribute to a more sustainable future by reducing their ecological footprint.
  3. Increasing Processing Speed: A cluttered database can hamper processing speed, leading to inefficiencies. Data minimisation ensures that only essential data is retained, enhancing processing speed and overall operational efficiency.
  4. Limiting Consequences in Data Loss or Breach: In a data breach or loss, the potential harm is significantly reduced when only essential data is stored. This minimises the risks and consequences, both for individuals and the organisation.
  5. Building Trust with Customers: In an era where data privacy is paramount, implementing data minimisation practices demonstrates a commitment to safeguarding personal information and building customer trust. This trust can lead to stronger customer relationships and brand loyalty.


Adhering to the Data Minimisation Principle

To ensure compliance with the Principle of Data Minimisation, data controllers should ask themselves five essential questions:

  1. Is the personal data we collect necessary for processing purposes?
    • Data collection should have a clear, legitimate purpose for the organisation’s objectives.
  2. Does the personal information we hold fulfil those purposes?
    • Regular assessments should verify that the data retained remains relevant to the designated purposes.
  3. Have we recently reviewed the data we hold?
    • Periodic reviews are crucial to identifying and rectifying any no longer necessary or relevant data.
  4. Do we delete personal data that is no longer relevant?
    • Timely disposal of obsolete data is vital to ensure that only necessary information is retained.
  5. Do we control the amount of data held at third-party data processors?
    • It is legally required to ensure data processors only process and retain the data relevant to the processing activity.



The GDPR Principle of Data Minimisation is a guiding light for businesses in their journey toward responsible data management. By collecting and retaining only essential data, organisations achieve regulatory compliance and unlock a host of tangible benefits that extend to financial savings, environmental sustainability, operational efficiency, and, perhaps most importantly, the trust of their customers. It’s a strategic approach that resonates with organisations ‘ ethical data handling, a robust data retention process and sound business practices in an age where data privacy is paramount.

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