Privacy Regulations Reference

Last Updated Jan 06, 2021

The data privacy regulatory landscape is undergoing a lot of change. You probably have heard about the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that went into effect on May 25, 2018. There are also other regulations in effect or in the works around the world. We’ve written up this reference document to put helpful information regarding our products and privacy regulations in one place. Please also view our full Privacy policy.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about our Privacy policy, your data, or your rights with respect to your information, please email us at privacy@helisum.com.

European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Helisum is an American company and our data infrastructure is currently based in the US. That means if you are in another country in the world and you use our products, your data are transferred to the US. The EU has stronger privacy laws than the US and a core tenet of the GDPR is that if you transfer any personal data of EU residents out of the EU, you must protect it to the same level as guaranteed under EU law. There are two factors to this:

  1. The practices that businesses take handling personal data; and
  2. The laws of the countries where you transfer the EU personal data to

Practices we have at Helisum

We do work with sub-processors. We’ve listed links to our current sub-processors at the end of this page. With each vendor, we assess their commitment to privacy and we sign a data processing addendum with them that include the controller-processor Standard Contractual Clauses.

Last but not least, we know privacy regulations are constantly evolving. We root for stronger consumer privacy laws! Several Helisumers are members of the International Agency of Privacy Professionals and use IAPP resources alongside legal counsel to stay aware of relevant changes in the regulatory landscape.

Relevant US laws

The US does not have a national consumer privacy law akin to GDPR. We’d love to see one put in place and until then, shout out to California for leading with the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA” — more information following this GDPR section) and our spiritual home state of Illinois for its Biometric Information Privacy Act.

There are national US security laws that are relevant to GDPR. Chief amongst them are: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and Executive Order 12-333. FISA establishes ways for US law enforcement and intelligence agencies to gather information within the US about non-US entities suspected of espionage or terrorism. Executive Order 12-333 sets out how US intelligence agencies can gather information, including outside the borders of the US.

Virtually every American software service is subject to FISA. That includes all the American big tech companies you can think of as well as any European service that uses cloud infrastructure from Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Computing. It also includes small tech American companies like us, Helisum LLC. However to date, Helisum has never been served a FISA order or National Security Letter.

Even so, these laws are relevant for why extra mechanisms need to be in place to allow the legal transfer of personal data from the EU to the US. Since GDPR went into effect in 2018, Helisum has offered two such mechanisms: a data processing addendum; and voluntary participation in the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework and the Swiss-US Privacy Shield Framework. Currently, the data processing addendum is the primary mechanism as the Privacy Shield frameworks were invalidated in July and September 2020 respectively.

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

In the CCPA, there is an important distinction between what are referred to as “service providers”, “businesses”, and “third parties”. You can see how the regulation defines these words by visiting the California Attorney General’s website: https://www.oag.ca.gov/privacy/ccpa.

Under the CCPA, Helisum is a “service provider.” That means when we process data you provide, we do so solely for the purpose you signed up for. Our business model is simple: we charge a recurring subscription fee to our customers. We do not sell personal information or use your data for any other commercial purposes unless with your explicit permission.

The CCPA also grants residents of California with additional rights related to their information. We grant those rights to all of our customers and detail them in our Privacy policy. Our Privacy policy also explains the information we collect in order to provide our services and clearly lists the only times we access or share your data.

US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

Our products are currently not HIPAA-compliant and we do not have immediate plans to become so.

Subprocessors

Helisum uses third party subprocessors, such as cloud computing providers and customer support software, to provide our services. We enter into data processing agreements including GDPR Standard Contractual Clauses with each subprocessor, and require the same of them.