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Certifying our Commitment to Your Right to Information Privacy


6 min read

Cloudflare recognizes privacy in personal data as a fundamental human right and has taken a number of steps, including certifying to international standards, to demonstrate our commitment to privacy.

Privacy has long been recognized as a fundamental human right. The United Nations included a right to privacy in its 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 12) and in the 1976 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 17). A number of other jurisdiction-specific laws and treaties also recognize privacy as a fundamental right.

Cloudflare shares the belief that privacy is a fundamental right. We believe that our mission to help build a better Internet means building a privacy-respecting Internet, so people don’t feel they have to sacrifice their personal information — where they live, their ages and interests, their shopping habits, or their religious or political beliefs — in order to navigate the online world.

But talk is cheap. Anyone can say they value privacy. We show it. We demonstrate our commitment to privacy not only in the products and services we build and the way we run our privacy program, but also in the examinations we perform of our processes and products  to ensure they work the way we say they do.

Certifying to International Privacy and Security Standards

Cloudflare has a multi-faceted privacy program that incorporates critical privacy principles such as being transparent about our privacy practices, practicing privacy by design when we build our products and services, using the minimum amount of personal data necessary for our services to work, and only processing personal data for the purposes specified. We were able to demonstrate our holistic approach to privacy when, earlier this year, Cloudflare became one of the first organizations in our industry to certify to a new international privacy standard for protecting and managing the processing of personal data — ISO/IEC 27701:2019.

This standard took the concepts in global data protection laws like the EU’s watershed General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) and adapted them into an international standard for how to manage privacy. This certification provides assurance to our customers that a third party has independently verified that Cloudflare’s privacy program meets GDPR-aligned industry standards. Having this certification helps our customers have confidence in the way we handle and protect our customer information, as both processor and controller of personal information.

The standard contains 31 controls identified for organizations that are personal data controllers, and 18 additional controls identified for organizations that are personal data processors.[1] The controls are essentially a set of best practices that data controllers and processors must meet in terms of data handling practices and transparency about those practices, documenting a legal basis for processing and for transfer of data to third countries (outside the EU), and handling data subject rights, among others.

For example, the standard requires that an organization maintain policies and document specific procedures related to the international transfer of personal data.

Cloudflare has implemented this requirement by maintaining an internal policy restricting the transfer of personal data between jurisdictions unless that transfer meets defined criteria. Customers, whether free or paid, enter into a standard Data Processing Addendum with Cloudflare which is available on the Cloudflare Customer Dashboard and which sets out the restrictions we must adhere to when processing personal data on behalf of customers, including when transferring personal data between jurisdictions. Additionally, Cloudflare publishes a list of sub-processors that we may use when processing personal data, and in which countries or jurisdictions that processing may take place.

The standard also requires that organizations should maintain documented personal data minimization objectives, including what mechanisms are used to meet those objectives.

Personal data minimization objective

Cloudflare maintains internal policies on how we manage data throughout its full lifecycle, including data minimization objectives. In fact, our commitment to privacy starts with the objective of minimizing personal data. That’s why, if we don’t have to collect certain personal data in order to deliver our service to customers, we’d prefer not to collect it at all in the first place. Where we do have to, we collect the minimum amount necessary to achieve the identified purpose and process it for the minimum amount necessary, transparently documenting the processing in our public privacy policy.

We’re also proud to have developed a Privacy by Design policy, which rigorously sets out the high-standards and evaluations that must be undertaken if products and services are to collect and process personal data. We use these mechanisms to ensure our collection and use of personal data is limited and transparently documented.

Demonstrating our adherence to laws and policies designed to protect the privacy of personal information is only one way to show how we value the people’s right to privacy. Another critical element of our privacy approach is the high level of security we apply to the data on our systems in order to keep that data private. We’ve demonstrated our commitment to data security through a number of certifications:

  • ISO 27001:2013: This is an industry-wide accepted information security certification that focuses on the implementation of an Information Security Management System (ISMS) and security risk management processes. Cloudflare has been ISO 27001 certified since 2019.
  • SOC 2 Type II:  Cloudflare has undertaken the AICPA SOC 2 Type II certification to attest that Security, Confidentiality, and Availability controls are in place in accordance with the AICPA Trust Service Criteria. Cloudflare's SOC 2 Type II report covers security, confidentiality, and availability controls to protect customer data.
  • PCI DSS 3.2.1: Cloudflare maintains PCI DSS Level 1 compliance and has been PCI compliant since 2014. Cloudflare's Web Application Firewall (WAF), Cloudflare Access, Content Delivery Network (CDN), Time Service, Workers, and Workers KV are PCI compliant solutions. Cloudflare is audited annually by a third-party Qualified Security Assessor (QSA).
  • BSI Qualification: Cloudflare has been recognized by the German government's Federal Office for Information Security as a qualified provider of DDoS mitigation services.

More information about these certifications is available on our Certifications and compliance resources page.

In addition, we are continuing to look for other opportunities to demonstrate our compliance with data privacy best practices. For example, we are following the European Union’s approval of the first official GDPR codes of conduct in May 2021, and we are considering other privacy standards, such as the ISO 27018 cloud privacy certification.

Building Tools to Deliver Privacy

We think one of the most impactful ways we can respect people’s privacy is by not collecting or processing unnecessary personal data in the first place. We not only build our own network with this principle in mind, but we also believe in empowering individuals and entities of all sizes with technological tools to easily build privacy-respecting applications and minimize the amount of personal information transiting the Internet.

One such tool is our public DNS resolver — the Internet's fastest, privacy-first public DNS resolver. When we launched our resolver, we committed that we would not retain any personal data about requests made using our resolver. And because we baked anonymization best practices into the resolver when we built it, we were able to demonstrate that we didn’t have any personal data to sell when we asked independent accountants to conduct a privacy examination of the resolver. While we haven’t made changes to how the product works since then, if we ever do so in the future, we’ll go back and commission another examination to demonstrate that when someone uses our public resolver, we can’t tell who is visiting any given website.

In addition to our resolver, we’ve built a number of other privacy-enhancing technologies, such as:

  • Cloudflare’s Web Analytics, which does not use any client-side state, such as cookies or localStorage, to collect usage metrics, and never ‘fingerprints’ individual users.
  • Supporting Oblivious DoH (ODoH), a proposed DNS standard — co-authored by engineers from Cloudflare, Apple, and Fastly — that separates IP addresses from DNS queries, so that no single entity can see both at the same time. In other words, ODoH means, for example, that no single entity can see that IP address sent an access request to the website
  • Universal SSL (now called Transport Layer Security), which we made available to all of our customers, paying and free. Supporting SSL means that we support encrypting the content of web pages, which had previously been sent as plain text over the Internet. It’s like sending your private, personal information in a locked box instead of on a postcard.

Building Trust

Cloudflare’s subscription-based business model has always been about offering an incredible suite of products that help make the Internet faster, more efficient, more secure, and more private for our users. Our business model has never been about selling users’ data or tracking individuals as they go about their digital lives. We don’t think people should have to trade their private information just to get access to Internet applications. We work every day to earn and maintain our users’ trust by respecting their right to privacy in their personal data as it transits our network, and by being transparent about how we handle and secure that data. You can find out more about the policies, privacy-enhancing technologies, and certifications that help us earn that trust by visiting the Cloudflare Trust Hub at

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[1] The GDPR defines a “data controller” as the “natural or legal person (...) or other body which, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data”; and a “data processor” as “a natural or legal person (...) which processes personal data on behalf of the controller.”

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Rory Malone|@roryinlondon

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