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Annotate the System

Now that you've built out the underlying database that describes how and what type of data is stored, include the database in application-level "systems", another critical fidesctl resource.

This app contains a single Flaskr Web Application system resource. Create a system resource to annotate it by adding a flaskr_system.yml file to the fides_resources directory.

Writing a Fides privacy declaration requires answering the questions: "What data is this system processing?", "Why is the system processing this data?", "Whose data is involved?", and "How is the data protected?" Fides answers these questions with a privacy_declaration that describes the data categories, use, subjects, and qualifier. This application is quite simple, so it only has a single use: to provide the service to users. In order to do so, it requires some identifiable data (name, email, contact, etc.) and it derives some data as well (unique IDs).

For this project, the file should contain the following configuration:

  - fides_key: flaskr_system
    name: Flaskr Web Application
    description: An example Flask web app that simulates an e-commerce application
    system_type: Application
      - name: Provide e-commerce operations to example customers
          - user.provided.identifiable
          - user.derived.identifiable
          - system.operations
        data_use: provide.service.operations
          - customer
        data_qualifier: aggregated.anonymized.unlinked_pseudonymized.pseudonymized.identified
          - flaskr_postgres_dataset

Privacy Declarations can be read colloquially as "This system uses sensitive data types of data_categories for data_subjects with the purpose of data_use at a deidentification level of data_qualifier".

In a production app, create as many systems as are necessary to cover all relevant business applications.

Understanding Systems

In fidesctl, Systems are used to model things that process data for organizations (applications, services, 3rd party APIs, etc.) and describe how these datasets are used for business functions. These groupings are not mutually exclusive; they answer "How and why are these datasets being used?" The System resource groups the lowest level of data (your datasets) with your business use cases, and associates qualitative attributes describing the type of data being used.

Systems use the following attributes:

Name Type Description
data_categories List[FidesKey] The types of sensitive data as defined by the taxonomy
data_subjects List[FidesKey] The individual persons whose data resides in your datasets
data_use List[FidesKey] The various categories of data processing and operations within your organization
data_qualifier List[FidesKey] The level of deidentification for the dataset
dataset_refereneces List[FidesKey] The fides_key(s) of the dataset fields used in this Privacy Declaration

For more detail on System resources, see the full System resource documentation.

Maintaining a System Resource

As use cases evolve, your systems' data subjects, data categories, and data uses will change as well. We recommend that updating this resource file becomes a regular part of the development planning process when building a new feature.


As more systems are added to a data ecosystem, consider grouping systems into another Fides resource type, called a Registry.

Next: Write a Policy

With database and system resources declared, you must now enforce your data constraints by writing a Policy.

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