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Durham University

Information Governance

Purpose of Processing

The first question to consider for data processing is 'What is the purpose of this processing?'. Without an understanding of the purpose, the scope of the data processing and the data security implications cannot be understood. The answer need not be complicated and could be as little as a sentence or short paragraph of text that provides that outline. The purpose is closely related to the 'lawful basis for processing'. Responding to the following questions should result in a very short scoping statement that could be refined further into a 'purpose statement'.

  • Who...
    • Are the data subjects?
    • Will be doing the processing?
    • Will you be sharing the data with, if anyone?
  • What...
    • Do you need the data for?
  • Why...
    • Do you need to process the data?
  • When...
    • Do we need to start processing the data?
    • Are we likely to stop needing to process the data?
  • Where...
    • Will the data be processed?
  • How...
    • Are you processing the data?

Once you are able to answer these questions you may be able to narrow down or eliminate the need to capture and/or process personal data at all.