The more data people generate and the more they engage online, the bigger the issue of data privacy and data protection becomes. The global nature of our data also throws up issues of its own, in terms of cross-border data control and the language that privacy laws are written in. In this post, we’ll take a look at the particular challenges that come with the translation of documents relating to privacy laws, along with what can be done to overcome those challenges.

Data privacy in translation

What is data protection and privacy? Data protection and data privacy are two different but related matters. Data protection relates to the protection of data from unauthorised access and use. Data privacy, meanwhile, relates more to who should be authorised to access the data and how they should do so.

It’s an issue around the globe. More than 100 countries and territories have comprehensive data protection and privacy laws in place in order to protect individuals’ data that is help by private and public bodies. A further 40 areas have pending data privacy legislation or initiatives.

How important is data privacy? Broadly speaking, it’s incredibly important, as it protects individuals’ rights in an increasingly data-hungry world. Admittedly, not every individual cares about the privacy of their data. Many will happily give away permission to an unknown company to access almost their entire Facebook account in exchange for finding out which Game of Thrones character they are most like. However, this only makes it more important to ensure that data privacy is appropriately enshrined in law and that the meaning of data privacy is not lost in translation.

Cultural differences play a significant role here. ‘Privacy’ means different things to different cultures, as well as to different people within those cultures. As such, privacy laws have to cover a broad range of understanding, as well as differing levels of interest. They also have to translate into practical guidance that policy makers and those responsible for enforcing the law can usefully comprehend.

In terms of the translation of data privacy documents, these differing views of what privacy means can be something of a challenge. The translator needs to remain faithful to the content of the original document. However, what if that content doesn’t resonate with the target audience, getting lost in the translation process? This is where localisation comes in.

Localisation and internationalisation as tools for globalisation

Localisation services encompass translation services but take them to the next level. They mould and shape the translated content to ensure that it fits with the cultural norms of the target audience.

When it comes to specialist areas such as marketing translation, the value of localisation work is easy to see. Indeed, many companies believe that localisation, internationalisation and globalisation are cornerstones of their international success. Put simply, localisation can make campaigns more effective by ensuring that they are more engaging to those at the receiving end – that is, those with money to spend.

That’s not to say that localisation is appropriate for every type of translation. When it comes to the wording of privacy laws, for example, a literal and direct translation that stays true to the original is essential. However, a localised translation may well be helpful when it comes to translating the guidance associated with implementing those legal requirements and the intent behind their original formation.

Overcoming the challenges of data privacy translation work

Translation tasks that relate to data privacy and data protection certainly bring their own unique challenges but the same could be said of any translation job, from legal translation to technical translation. Thankfully, there are certain guidelines that translation clients can adhere to in order to overcome these challenges.

First and foremost, it’s essential to use a translator with relevant experience. Translation is not a ‘one size fits all’ activity. Different translators offer different expertise, not just in terms of the languages that they work with but also their sector-specific experience. A translator with previous data privacy experience will be well placed to overcome the challenges relating to this type of work.

It’s also important to use a native speaker of the target language. Doing so can result in a better quality translation. It can also help to flag up any areas of the work that might rub cultural sensitivities up the wrong way, thus flagging up the need for specialist localisation services.

Careful consideration of the task at hand can also help to overcome particular data privacy-related challenges. This is an area where translation companies and their clients can work in partnership to assess the likely impact of a translated document. It might be that the translation process identifies the need not just for localisation but for supplementary resources to accompany it, such as checklists or guidance documents.

Data privacy translation is, ultimately, about attention to detail. The nature of privacy documentation tends to command this, so any translator working on such documents needs to be incredibly detail-focused in their approach. They also need to have a keen understanding of the context of the translation, both in the original language/country and the target one. Again, this can result in a higher quality translation that better serves the client and their document’s intended audience.

The wide implications of data protection and data privacy laws mean that it is essential to interpret them correctly, both in their original language and in translation. They exist in order to protect individuals and test cases in the courts can often be deeply personal. As such, exacting standards need to be applied by all those working on data privacy translation tasks. It is only through the rigorous application of such keen focus and attention to detail that the rights of all those that the laws are intended to protect will be guaranteed. Using an established translation company with experienced, talented translators is, therefore, key to ensuring success and to overcoming the particular challenges associated with working with privacy laws in translation.