Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) allow consumers and customers to access and interact with a business’s services and data. Unfortunately, if any of this information was to fall into the wrong hands, it could lead to a severe compromise of data security.

For this reason, API security is paramount for any organization handling clients’ personal data, and there are several notable regulations such as GDPR or the CCPA that impact API data management. We’ll take a look at which regulations to prioritize and how they will impact businesses using APIs.

Types of APIs

There are several different types of APIs, each with different purposes and requirements. The main four categories are:

Public APIs

Public APIs are usable by any outside business or developer for whatever they wish to use them for. Therefore, public APIs require a lot of authorization and authentication. Many companies will seek to monetize public APIs by implementing a per-call cost.

Partner APIs

Partner APIs are specifically available to only authorized external developers or API consumers. Partner APIs are a great way to facilitate business-to-business activities, and participating partners will need to have appropriate licensing to access such APIs.

Internal APIs

Internal APIs, sometimes known as private APIs, are for use only inside a particular business. They are used to connect both data and systems within the structure of the business’s network. These APIs sometimes impose weak security, so it’s important not to skimp on data protections just because the API is only used internally.

Composite APIs

Composite APIs normally connect two or more APIs to form a sequence of linked dependencies between the APIs.

Global Compliance and Regulations

Now that you have a basic overview of APIs, let’s look at how different global regulations and compliances may affect APIs sharing personal data. These are the top three industry standards to keep an eye on when it comes to API data privacy:

1. SOC Reports

The System and Organisation Controls (SOC) is a compiled suite of high-level auditing reports developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The reports are designed to prove that a particular organization has passed a rigorous auditing process. To pass, the organization must maintain PCI compliance and adhere to all sustainability and leading industry-standard security requirements.

SOC reports are entirely voluntary and will ensure a business will process data both securely and accurately. SOC reports will also prove that an organization can safeguard data privacy in transit and at rest. So, passing this audit is not required, but it can do a lot for a business’s reputation and peace of mind.

2. ISO 27001

ISO 27001 is a standard published originally by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (EIC) in 2005. This is not a regulation for APIs, but rather a standard that an enterprise can choose to adhere to.

This standard has processes in place to help organizations adhere to the many different international standards regarding data protection. For example, organizations can submit a request and choose to be audited and become certified, which they can then use to prove compliance with other regulations.

ISO 27001 is based on implementing what is known as an information security management system (ISMS). An ISMS will demonstrate how an enterprise should handle secure databases and information security. The ISO 27001 level of standard is popular among API and cloud service providers because it helps prove adherence to other important industry standards.

By not operating compliant with ISO 27001, a business or enterprise may miss out on contract opportunities, as most high-level clients will request to see an ISO 27001 certificate. Therefore, having an ISO 27001 certificate can be used as a sales tool when marketing your APIs. Without it, organizations will be at a distinct advantage because potential customers — especially other businesses — will want to know that their data is securely handled.

3. GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is probably the most well-known of all data compliance standards. GDPR was brought into effect in May of 2018 and has set the benchmark for data privacy regulation across the globe. It outlines the protocols and expectations organizations must adhere to when handling user data across the European Union (EU) and also applies to firms who collect data within the EU but are not based within the EU.

This regulation aims to:

  • Uphold the rights of data subjects
  • Minimize the amount of data collected
  • Require consent before collecting data
  • Observe other personal data protection standards

Firms that fail to adhere to the rules of GDPR can face up to a €20 million fine or 4% of the company’s global annual turnover.

Many countries, such as Canada, have used GDPR as a model to implement similar acts and regulations like Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. This particular act covers any organization or private sector business that gathers, holds, or uses personal data. In Canada, failure to comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act could see companies subjected to fines up to $100k or more.

Some states in the U.S. are doing this as well. An example is the CCPA in California, which imposes fines up to $7,500 for every intentional violation of the law.

Data Management and API Compliance

Many data privacy and data protection regulations (like GDPR) require businesses to obtain user consent before gathering their personal data, especially before it is shared. Users can also opt-out of any data-related processing activity they do not wish to be a part of. Therefore, implementing a consent management system of some kind within your APIs should help with complying with any regulations.

Data protection and security are among the most important things to prioritize when learning how to run databases and building APIs. To be compliant with the appropriate data privacy regulations, it is crucial that you learn how to properly manage data with the APIs you collect. Once you obtain consent, a good start when improving your data management is to begin auditing any sensitive information you may have gathered and minimizing the data you actually store.

Conclusion

By adhering to the regulations mentioned above, you can ensure your organization is compliant when managing your API data collection. This is crucial when handling sensitive personal data, and customers will feel much more comfortable working with you knowing that the appropriate standards are being adhered to. Data privacy and consent management should be integrated into your regular API maintenance to stay compliant and avoid data breaches.