The Ocean Cleanup | Deloitte Impact Foundation


Handling data privacy with care

GDPR at The Ocean Cleanup

As a Legal Consultant at Deloitte Digital Law, Sari Koelewijn helped The Ocean Cleanup professionalize the handling of data privacy. “I may not have fished pieces of plastic out of the ocean myself, but I did contribute to the organization. And it certainly has been one of my most favorite projects.”

“A friend of mine works at The Ocean Cleanup as a Legal Assistant. When they needed help dealing with data privacy, she thought of me. I work at Deloitte Digital Law as a Legal Consultant and privacy and data security is my expertise”, Sari explains. “Of course I got excited, so I turned to the Deloitte Impact Foundation to see what we could do. But to my surprise, I learned Deloitte already had established a warm partnership with The Ocean Cleanup! I was welcomed with open arms. In no time the project was set up and I was able to get started.”

Taking good care of the people involved

The Ocean Cleanup wanted help in dealing with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). “The GDPR, or in Dutch AVG, is an European legal obligation to handle privacy with care. The law came into effect in 2018 and The Ocean Cleanup wanted to stay up to date. Of course, for an organization like The Ocean Cleanup, it is very bad for your reputation to encounter possible privacy missteps. But above all, they were driven to take good care of the people involved in their organization, from employee to donor. And the high level of privacy awareness marveled me, it was a great starting point.”

In four months time Sari helped The Ocean Cleanup with privacy and data security. “I trained the client to deal with GDPR. What is needed? And how do you handle the right knowledge and documentation? For each department of the organization, we looked at what they do, what data is covered and how it should be handled. And I got involved in new projects, for which I often consulted with IT. For instance, they developed an app called Ocean Plastic Survey with which anyone around the world can monitor how much plastic waste there is in our oceans. The Ocean Cleanup is not just an organization that scoops plastic out of the ocean. It is an innovative company that constantly comes up with new, creative ideas to get people supporting their mission. And of course, protection of personal data of their employees and donors is very important to prevent reputational damage.” 

Making an impact to society

Sari learned a lot, she says. “I never knew how much The Ocean Cleanup does to rid the oceans of plastic. And I got impressed with how big and ambitious the organization has become worldwide. It feels like one big family, and all members are passionately working very hard to achieve their goal of not being needed anymore! That truly is something special. I enjoyed being part of the family for a few months and I will always be available to contribute again.” 

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