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What we're doing as a data processor to help customers comply with GDPR
What we're doing as a data processor to help customers comply with GDPR

GDPR compliance is an ongoing exercise and we are constantly reviewing and updating our practices.

Gareth Burroughes avatar
Written by Gareth Burroughes
Updated over a week ago

General information

1. Is Dotdigital GDPR compliant?

Dotdigital complies with its obligations under the GDPR. Specifically, as a processor, we have taken steps to ensure that we comply with the requirements of Article 28 of the GDPR. These are primarily set out in our data processing addendum (adopted into our terms via


  • We have implemented appropriate technical and organisational security measures to meet the requirements of the GDPR, guaranteed in our contract

  • In accordance with our DPA (Data Processing Agreement, we only engage sub-processors with client authorisation and ensure the same obligations are imposed with any sub-processor

  • The processing we undertake is governed by a written contract, documenting client instructions and ensuring the confidentiality of data, as well as ensuring compliance with Articles 32-36 GDPR (relating to notifications, security and assistance with compliance)

2. Is Dotdigital a controller or a processor?

For the data provided by our direct clients within the Dotdigital platform, Dotdigital is a data processor (as defined by the GDPR). For the data we hold on clients and prospects, we are a data controller.

3. Is Dotdigital a joint controller?

No, as the name suggests joint controllers determine the purposes and means of processing data together or jointly. As the data processor, Dotdigital does not determine the purposes and means of processing the data that clients supply to the platform.

4. Can we search for personal data on your systems?

Dotdigital holds the data that our users have uploaded with the platform in a database. Our users have full control and access to their data, including the ability to search, import, export, delete and modify the data as needed.

5. Are you maintaining data processing records?

All data uploaded with the platform is kept within the Dotdigital platform and clients have full control of the data within the platform, as outlined above.

6. Who has access to our data?

Clients must maintain their own procedures as to who can access the Dotdigital platform and the data held there.
If you have users that you manage, then you'll probably want to restrict their access within your account. In the Your team > Users tab (or in Access if you're not a top account owner), you can do this by editing their permissions.
Dotdigital staff have access to your account to provide support and assist in the provision of the services.

Deletion of data

7. For how long does Dotdigital keep data?

All data is kept until either:

  • You delete it, via the app or the API (see below); or

  • You close your account, where any remaining data is held for 90 days before deletion
    You can optionally choose to expire pending contacts 30 days after our last contact attempt.

8. Can we delete personal data from your systems?

Yes, you can delete data in your account at any time (including when responding to a request for a data subject to be “forgotten”).
In December 2017, Dotdigital made changes to how contacts are exported and deleted within the platform, making it easier for clients to comply with Subject Access Requests and requests from data subjects to be forgotten.

9. Can you confirm our right to have personal data deleted upon termination of contract at no extra cost?

At the end of a contract, all client accounts are terminated, and associated data is deleted after 90 days. The platform enables clients to delete data during the term of the contract through the platform and in response to a request to be forgotten at no extra cost.

10. How is data deleted?

When deleting a contact, the contact will be placed in the account's recycle bin for 30 days (unless manually removed from the recycle bin or in relation to a suppressed contact, which is immediate), after which time they're deleted permanently.

Subject Access Requests (SAR)

11. What will Dotdigital do if it receives a Subject Access Request from one of our clients?

If we receive a Subject Access Request from one of your clients (a data subject), we will pass on any request for data for which you are the data controller so that you can manage the request. We may identify you as the controller of their data.
In Decmber 2017, Dotdigital made changes to how contacts are exported and deleted within the platform, making it easier for clients to comply with Subject Access Requests and requests from data subjects to be forgotten.

Data Processing Agreement

12. Do your standard contract terms include the new GDPR mandatory provisions?

We have updated our terms and conditions to incorporate our data processing agreement (available for review here: This ensures that the processing that we undertake on your behalf is clearly documented by way of a written contract. Our document has been drafted to reflect the bespoke nature of the processing activities that Dotdigital undertakes on your behalf and at your instruction.

13. Does Dotdigital have a Data Processing Agreement?

Yes, we have updated our terms and conditions to incorporate our data processing agreement (available for review here:
If you require a separate hard copy version of this document, please reach out to your account manager or contact

14. I have a Data Processing Agreement – can Dotdigital agree to that?

We understand that our clients have undergone due diligence and may have prepared their own Data Processing Agreements for their suppliers to sign.
However, given the nature of the services Dotdigital provides our clients and the need for processing activities to be documented, we require clients to use Dotdigital’s Data Processing Agreement, as this has been prepared to cover the specific services Dotdigital provides.

Data breach

15. Do you have a documented breach notification process?

Our process for reporting breaches concerning the data of individuals is addressed in our Data Processing Agreement and more specifically addressed in our Incident Reporting Policy.

16. What will Dotdigital do in the event of a data breach?

In relation to the data our clients store with us (where we are a data processor), we will notify any affected client (data controller) of a personal data breach as soon as practically possible, and in any event, within 24 hours of discovering the breach.

In the event of a data breach of data relating to our direct clients (where we are a data controller), we will report any data breach within 72 hours to the Information Commissioner’s Office if a breach is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals.
If the breach is likely to result in a high risk of adversely affecting individuals’ rights and freedoms, Dotdigital will also inform those individuals without undue delay.

Data Protection Officer (DPO)

17. Does Dotdigital have a DPO?

Yes, Dotdigital’s nominated Data Protection Officer is Joseph Stoker, Head of Legal, Privacy & Compliance. Any request may be addressed to him via post or via email:

Joseph Stoker
Head of Legal, Privacy & Compliance
No. 1 London Bridge
United Kingdom


18. Do any other organisations (including sub-contractors, contractors or consultants) process any of the data provided by our clients on our behalf?

Yes, Dotdigital works with third-party providers/sub-processors for providing the services we offer or storing your data (personal data). Dotdigital uses sub-processors to perform various functions as explained in our Trust Centre.

A sub-processor is a third party data processor engaged by Dotdigital, including entities from within the Dotdigital Group, who has or may have access to, or process, client data. Third parties that do not have access to, or process, client data but who are used to provide the services as “subcontractors” are not sub-processors.

19. What steps do you take to safeguard the processing of our data by third-party organisations?

Further to the above, Dotdigital carries out a selection process where we evaluate the data processing practices of any proposed sub-processor that might have access to client data – this includes reviewing their security and privacy practices.

Data protection laws permit sub-processors to be engaged, provided that the equivalent safeguards from client agreements are reflected with these sub-processors.

Dotdigital has entered into contracts with the organisations listed on our Trust Centre to ensure the safeguarding of personal data, including entering into Data Processing Agreements reflecting the obligations under the GDPR, passing down the measures of the EU Model Contract Clauses to ensure that all client data is protected.

20. How does Dotdigital replace or designate a new sub-processor?

The procedure to replace or appoint a new sub-processor is covered within our Data Processing Agreement with our clients.

We will provide you with advance notice of any changes or additions and give you the right to object (provided these are reasonable). Dotdigital will always ensure the safeguarding of personal data, including entering into Data Processing Agreements reflecting the obligations under the GDPR, passing down the measures of the EU Model Contract Clauses when working with parties outside of the EU.

Storage of data/international data transfer

21. Where is our data stored?

To safeguard the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data, the core Dotdigital platform is hosted on high-security Microsoft Azure data centres. Data for our European clients is held in the West Europe region, with data being backed up to the North Europe region. All Azure facilities meet a broad set of compliance standards.

The Google Cloud platform is also used for some of Dotdigital’s more processing-intensive features such as Insight data. Client data remains in the same region as the Dotdigital account, i.e. for Dotdigital accounts hosted in our Europe region, the data stored on Google's infrastructure is spread across their European region, which currently consists of London, Belgium, Frankfurt, Finland and The Netherlands. Find out more about Google's regions.

In addition to our virtualised infrastructure hosted on Microsoft Azure and the Google Cloud platform, Dotdigital has a physical data centre located in London. This connects to Azure via a Virtual Private Network and is used to send your email campaigns out to the internet. This too holds various accreditations including ISO 27001 and 22301. Regarding transfers, we commit to clients based in the EEA (in our terms) that data will be hosted and stored at rest within hosting facilities in the EEA. Our Trust Centre and DPA outline our use of sub-processors and any access required from organisations outside of the EEA, and our DPA specifies that any processing carried out by sub-processors shall be done so in accordance with appropriate safeguards (including the EU Model Contract Clauses). The Model Contract Clauses alone are not enough to ensure protection under the GDPR, so we also stipulate that the provisions of the DPA will also be flowed onto sub-processors to ensure the obligations of the GDPR are suitably passed on.

Access to data from outside of the EEA is required for two principal reasons: i) for Dotdigital support/technical staff to provide support outside of UK business hours, and ii) for certain elements of the service (as further specified in our Trust Centre).

22. Dotdigital development and testing platforms

Dotdigital is frequently updating our platform with feature enhancements and additions. We do this in development, testing and staging environments separate to the main platform. No client data is stored in our testing or development environments.

23. EU-U.S Privacy Shield and the Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield

While Dotdigital has certified to the Department of Commerce that it adheres to the Privacy Shield principles in the past, on Thursday 16 July 2020 the European Court of Justice set out a judgement that the EU – U.S. Privacy Shield was held to be invalid.

We do have a number of relationships with organizations in the United States. More details around these sub-processors can be found on our Trust Center pages here. However, the Privacy Shield has been under scrutiny for some time and we have never relied on the Privacy Shield alone.

Dotdigital has entered into contracts with the organizations listed on our Trust Center to ensure the safeguarding of personal data, including entering into Data Processing Agreements reflecting the obligations under the GDPR, passing down the measures of the EU Model Contract Clauses to ensure that all customer data is protected.

Right to audit Dotdigital

24. To what extent can clients audit Dotdigital's systems?

Dotdigital will facilitate client requests for audits and inspections. The terms of such audits can be found in the Data Processing Agreement in addition to our terms and conditions.

Technical and organisational security measures

25. What security certification do you hold?

Dotdigital maintains Cyber Essential Plus certification. Full details can be found on our Trust Centre.

26. What technical and organisational security measures does Dotdigital have in place?

Please see our Trust Centre for high-level information on how we protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the Dotdigital services and the data held on our platform.

Details of our technical and organisational security measures are provided below:

  • Security management
    Dotdigital employs a dedicated privacy and compliance team (with a nominated Data Protection Officer) to oversee the security, privacy and compliance programs of the organisation.

  • Personnel security (Human Resources security)
    Dotdigital maintains starter/leaver policies and procedures which will include the conducting of background checks (where available) on employees joining the organisation and revocation of access rights on termination of employment.

  • Physical and environmental security
    Dotdigital restricts access to workspaces, and to secure data centre facilities where information systems that process personal data are located, to identified authorised individuals.

  • Workstation security and server security
    Within Dotdigital, we:

    • Employ a maintenance schedule that facilitates the timely installation of security patches.

    • Install and regularly update anti-virus software.

    • Commission annual independent build reviews of workstations and servers.

    • Use role-based permissions to restrict access to resources.

  • Network security
    Within Dotdigital, we:

    • Deploy firewalls at network perimeters, running management-authorised rule sets

    • Maintain a vulnerability management program to regularly assess the security of network perimeters

    • Subject both internal and external networks to annual independent security assessments

    • Undergo annual independent technical security reviews, and shall maintain at a minimum the Cyber Essentials Plus Certification

Business continuity and disaster recovery

27. What business continuity and disaster recovery policies and systems does Dotdigital maintain?

The Dotdigital platform is built using redundancy and load balancing at every level, meaning a single component failure should not result in a service disruption.
Data is backed up to a secondary location, hundreds of miles away, yet still in the same region complying with data protection obligations. In the event of a catastrophic event at the primary facility, the service will be restored in the secondary location.

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