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ISO 29100 (Information Security Standard)

Glossary Contents

The ISO 29100, also known as the Information Security Standard, is a globally recognised standard that provides a framework for ensuring the privacy of personal information. This standard, developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), aims to help organisations manage and protect personal data in a way that respects individual privacy rights and complies with international data protection laws.

As part of a broader glossary on Data Privacy, this article will delve into the intricacies of ISO 29100, dissecting its various components, explaining its significance, and exploring how it can be implemented in a practical context. The information provided herein is intended to serve as a comprehensive guide for anyone seeking to understand this critical standard in the realm of information security.

Overview of ISO 29100

The ISO 29100 standard is a privacy framework that provides common privacy terminology, defines the actors and their roles in processing personally identifiable information (PII), describes privacy safeguarding considerations, and provides references to known privacy principles for information technology. It is a high-level conceptual framework that is technology-neutral and applicable to all types and sizes of organisations, including public and private companies, government entities, and not-for-profit organisations.

This standard is particularly relevant where the protection of personal data has become a paramount concern for individuals and organisations. By adhering to the ISO 29100 standard, organisations can demonstrate their commitment to privacy, enhance their reputation, and potentially avoid the legal and financial repercussions associated with data breaches.

History and Development of ISO 29100

The ISO 29100 standard was developed by the ISO/IEC JTC 1, the joint technical committee of the ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which is responsible for international standardisation in the field of information technology. The standard was first published in 2011, reflecting the growing recognition of the importance of data privacy.

Since its inception, the ISO 29100 standard has been periodically reviewed and updated to ensure its relevance and applicability in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. These updates take into account emerging technologies, new privacy challenges, and changes in international data protection laws.

Components of ISO 29100

The ISO 29100 standard is composed of several key components, each of which plays a crucial role in the overall privacy framework. These components include privacy principles, privacy architecture, and privacy controls.

The privacy principles are the core values that underpin the ISO 29100 standard. They provide a set of guidelines for how personal data should be handled, emphasising respect for privacy, transparency, and accountability among other principles. The privacy architecture provides a structural model for implementing these principles, while the privacy controls offer specific measures that can be taken to safeguard personal data.

Understanding the Privacy Principles

The privacy principles of ISO 29100 form the standard's ethical and philosophical foundation. They are derived from internationally recognised privacy frameworks and data protection laws and provide guidelines for handling personal data.

There are ten privacy principles in total, each of which emphasises a different aspect of data privacy. These principles are: Consent and choice, Purpose legitimacy and specification, Collection limitation, Data minimisation, Use, retention and disclosure limitation, Accuracy and quality, Openness, transparency and notice, Individual participation and access, Accountability, Information security, and Privacy compliance.

Consent and Choice

The principle of Consent and Choice emphasises the importance of obtaining individuals' explicit consent before collecting, using, or disclosing their personal data. This principle also underscores the need to provide individuals with clear, understandable choices about how their data is used.

Implementing this principle involves obtaining consent at the point of data collection and maintaining a mechanism for individuals to withdraw their consent at any time. It also involves providing clear, accessible information about how personal data will be used and offering individuals meaningful choices about these uses.

Purpose Legitimacy and Specification

The principle of Purpose Legitimacy and Specification requires that personal data be collected for specified, explicit, and legitimate purposes. This principle prohibits the use of personal data for purposes that are not explicitly stated at the time of collection, or that are not compatible with the stated purposes.

To implement this principle, organisations must clearly define the purposes for which they collect personal data and ensure that these purposes are legitimate and lawful. They must also ensure that personal data is not used for purposes that are incompatible with the stated purposes or that exceed the individual's expectations.

Implementing ISO 29100

Implementing the ISO 29100 standard involves a series of steps, beginning with an understanding of the standard's requirements and principles, followed by the development of a privacy policy and procedures, the implementation of privacy controls, and ongoing monitoring and review.

While the specific steps may vary depending on the nature and size of the organisation, the following sections provide a general overview of the process involved in implementing the ISO 29100 standard.

Developing a Privacy Policy and Procedures

The first step in implementing the ISO 29100 standard is to develop a privacy policy and procedures that reflect the standard's principles and requirements. This involves defining the organisation's privacy objectives, identifying the personal data that it collects and processes, establishing procedures for obtaining consent, responding to privacy inquiries and complaints, and handling data breaches.

The privacy policy should be clear, concise, and easily accessible to individuals. It should provide detailed information about how the organisation collects, uses, discloses, and protects personal data. The procedures should provide step-by-step instructions for implementing the privacy policy, and they should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure their effectiveness.

Implementing Privacy Controls

Once the privacy policy and procedures have been developed, the next step is to implement privacy controls that help to safeguard personal data. These controls can be technical (such as encryption and access controls), administrative (such as training and awareness programs), or physical (such as secure storage facilities).

The specific controls that are implemented will depend on the nature of the personal data that is collected and processed, the risks associated with this data, and the organisation's privacy objectives. However, all controls should be designed to prevent unauthorised access, use, disclosure, alteration, or destruction of personal data.

Benefits of ISO 29100 Compliance

Compliance with the ISO 29100 standard offers several benefits for organisations. These include enhanced privacy protection, improved reputation, increased trust from customers and stakeholders, and potential avoidance of legal and financial repercussions associated with data breaches.

By adhering to the ISO 29100 standard, organisations can demonstrate their commitment to privacy, enhance their reputation, and potentially avoid the legal and financial repercussions associated with data breaches. Furthermore, compliance with the standard can help organisations meet their legal obligations under data protection laws and provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Enhanced Privacy Protection

One of the primary benefits of ISO 29100 compliance is enhanced privacy protection. By adhering to the standard's principles and implementing its privacy controls, organisations can ensure that personal data is handled in a way that respects individual privacy rights and complies with international data protection laws.

This not only helps to protect individuals' personal data, but it also helps to prevent data breaches, which can result in significant financial losses, damage to the organisation's reputation, and potential legal action.

Improved Reputation and Trust

Today, privacy concerns are increasingly influencing consumer behaviour. A recent survey found that 85% of consumers are more likely to do business with companies that demonstrate a strong commitment to privacy.

Compliance with the ISO 29100 standard can also help to improve an organisation's reputation and build trust with customers and stakeholders. By demonstrating a commitment to privacy and data protection, organisations can differentiate themselves from competitors, attract new customers, and retain existing ones.


The ISO 29100 standard provides a comprehensive framework for ensuring the privacy of personal data. By adhering to this standard, organisations can demonstrate their commitment to privacy, enhance their reputation, and potentially avoid the legal and financial repercussions associated with data breaches.

While implementing the ISO 29100 standard can be a complex process, the benefits of compliance far outweigh the challenges. With the right knowledge, resources, and commitment, any organisation can achieve compliance with this important standard.

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