Machine Translation and GDPR

Since 2018 privacy protection of individuals became more and more important. The translation industry is one of the industries where violation of the GDPR can occur easily. Especially “confidentiality”, one of the key principles of the GDPR will be probably mentioned in every purchase order for a translation, but it’s impossible to control if this is true. The biggest offenders of confidentiality are the publicly available NMT tools and translation tools. As soon as sensitive information is pasted into the search field and the translate button is pushed, we have lost all control over that data at that very moment. 

What’s GDPR anyway?

Let’s take a step back and find out what the GDPR is all about. GDPR is a regulation that requires companies to keep their data secure and protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within member states. Non-compliance can cost companies a lot of money. GDPR can be considered one of the strongest data protection laws out there. It controls how people can access information, what is stored about them and sets limits to what companies can do with their information.

Why is data security a concern?

Communication and data sharing is essential for any company. For an international company chances are high that communication and data sharing occur in multiple languages. An e-mail that looks important but is written in French. An attachment with a contract that has been drawn up in German. In these situations our first reaction can be to use a free tool that can help to cross these language borders. But in terms of data security and GDPR, a free online translation tools are really a no-go.

gdpr translation

What kind of data can be marked as sensitive?

A lot of information is marked as classified. It concerns all the information that can identify an individual. For example, address information, patient information, medical history, legal documents, trademarks, intellectual property documents and so on. 

Information with a privacy risk should never be translated with a free machine translation tool

Making sure data is safe is one of the top responsibilities of any company. There are legal requirements that force companies to take good care of customer data. Nevertheless, few people will deny that they have never used free translation services online. For information that is intended to be exposed publicly such as websites this is not a problem. However, using a free machine translation tool for the translation of internal documents creates a significant privacy risk. 

So what’s the solution?

One solution is to make sure employees cannot access such websites. A drawback is though that information sharing and internal communication becomes more difficult as quick translations cannot be obtained. The best way of keeping the data safe is by using a secure machine translation engine that is installed on premise. There is no risk for leaks, since the software can be used offline and employees can translate as much as they want, including documents with sensitive information. 

Make machine translation part of your companies’ data security strategy

Business secrets and customer data can never be safeguarded too much. If you are using a paid API from a machine translation provider which is fully GDPR-compliant, you are still sending data over to someone else’s server, a third party. Instead, the only safe option would be to host your own machine translation engine. Euroglot NMT Server makes this possible. The machine translation engine can be installed on a company’s server. The engine can be integrated in the own business tools of the company or a user-friendly UI can be used. 

Does your company have a lot of employees using machine translation on daily basis and is it important for your company that personal data and internal documents are not leaked outside the company? Contact us for more information.