It has finally happened. Like that train you are waiting for that keeps getting delayed but eventually arrives. The all-powerful trio comprising the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission arrived at their destination after a journey of four years, and on December 15th, 2015, agreed the final text of the EU General Data Protection Regulation. Once formally adopted in the coming weeks, the GDPR will create a completely new legal framework for the collection, use and sharing of personal information that will apply well beyond Europe.
Speaking at a recent conference organized jointly by AmCham and EY on “the Internet of Things, Opportunities and Challenges for the Protection of Personal Data”, Sophie Nerbonne, Head of Compliance at the French data protection authority explained how the CNIL views the opportunities and risks raised by connected devices, focusing particularly on smart meters as a scheme that may apply to other devices.
Following on from the Article 29 Working Party’s Opinion in June, the European Data Protection Supervisor has now published his own recommendations for the proposed General Data Protection Regulation. Unsurprisingly, given that the EDPS is a member of the Working Party, the views expressed are in line with that Opinion. At this point you may be tempted to stop reading, but wait, there is more. In addition to expressing his vision of the GDPR (more on which below) and producing his own recommendations for every single article of the GDPR, the EDPS has demonstrated his commitment to practicality by making this all available as a mobile app. The app allows you to select which of the drafts you wish to see side by side, scroll rapidly through the contents to select a particular article, or search on the whole text so you can see at a glance what each version says, for example, about pseudonymisation or profiling. Whilst the app may have limited appeal, and is unlikely to keep small children entertained on long car journeys, it will be a thing of joy for its target audience.
Data privacy in an employment context remains an important challenge for companies. On the one hand, employers have a strong interest in monitoring personnel conduct or performance; few controllers are likely to have collected more personal data about an individual than their employer. On the other hand, employees have a legitimate expectation of privacy – including at their workplace. This inherent conflict of interests has created a considerable volume of case law regarding employee monitoring in several member states, relating to the permissibility of internal investigations and compliance controls. This entry is an excerpt from Hogan Lovells’ “Future-proofing privacy: A guide to preparing for the EU Data Protection Regulation.”
One of the major purposes of the Regulation is to ensure a consistent application of data protection law throughout the EU, not only to provide a high level of data protection but also to guarantee legal certainty for businesses when handling personal data. This has presented legislators with one of their biggest challenges: how to maintain the existing network of independent national DPAs, whilst ensuring that they promote a consistent interpretation of the Regulation and minimising the number of different DPAs which a controller has to deal with. It remains to be seen whether they have devised a workable solution. This entry is an excerpt from Hogan Lovells’ “Future-proofing privacy: A guide to preparing for the EU Data Protection Regulation.”
The Data Protection Directive and the Regulation both impose restrictions on the transfer of personal data by EU based businesses to destinations outside the EEA. The of the Data Protection Directive, however, have not been uniformly implemented by EU Member States. In some Member States additional requirements apply, such as prior notification to or approval by the local DPA, particularly where companies wish to rely on EU Model Clauses, BCRs or the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework. This approach is essentially set to continue under the Regulation with some variations. This entry is an excerpt from Hogan Lovells’ “Future-proofing privacy: A guide to preparing for the EU Data Protection Regulation.”
The General Data Protection Regulation will have a significant impact on service providers/vendors (i.e. data “processors”) and organisations that engage them by imposing a number of detailed obligations and restrictions directly on processors, unlike the current Directive that only applies to data controllers. The new rules for processors are considered in detail in the attached entry. This entry is an excerpt from Hogan Lovells’ “Future-proofing privacy: A guide to preparing for the EU Data Protection Regulation.”
Accountability has been described by the Article 29 Working Party as a way of “showing how responsibility is exercised and making this verifiable”. Accountability is far from being a new concept. It was introduced back in 1980 in the OECD Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data. This entry is an excerpt from Hogan Lovells’ “Future-proofing privacy: A guide to preparing for the EU Data Protection Regulation.”
Profiling and Big Data analytics are set to play a pivotal role in the growth of the digital economy. From cookie-based tracking to people’s interaction through social media, the size and the degree of granularity of our digital footprints have created unprecedented opportunities for business development and service delivery. The scale of data collection, data sharing and data analysis has not gone unnoticed to public policy makers and this has led to the inclusion of special rules addressing profiling in the Regulation. In fact, from the point of view of those businesses seeking to benefit from data analytics, the provisions dealing with profiling are likely to become the most crucial aspect of the entire Regulation. This entry is an excerpt from Hogan Lovells’ “Future-proofing privacy: A guide to preparing for the EU Data Protection Regulation.”
The Regulation aims to strengthen the rights of individuals. It does so by retaining rights that already exist under the Data Protection Directive and introducing the new rights of data portability, the right to be forgotten, and certain rights in relation to profiling. In this chapter we look at each of these rights in turn and assess the likely practical impact that the changes brought about by the Regulation will have on organisations. This entry is an excerpt from Hogan Lovells’ “Future-proofing privacy: A guide to preparing for the EU Data Protection Regulation.”
Under the Data Protection Directive, each instance of data processing requires a legal justification – a “ground for processing”. This fundamental feature of EU data protection law remains unchanged under the draft Regulation. However, the bar for showing the existence of certain grounds for processing will be set higher, particularly in relation to consent. This entry is an excerpt from Hogan Lovells’ “Future-proofing privacy: A guide to preparing for the EU Data Protection Regulation.”
Along with the concept of personal data, as opposed to anonymous data, the Regulation introduces a third category, that of pseudonymous data. Pseudonymous data is information that no longer allows the identification of an individual without additional information and is kept separate from it. In exchange for the lower level of privacy intrusion, the applicable requirements are less stringent. This entry is an excerpt from Hogan Lovells’ “Future-proofing privacy: A guide to preparing for the EU Data Protection Regulation.”
When the General Data Protection Regulation becomes law, it will apply immediately throughout the EU due to its direct effect. It is absolutely crucial for organisations to know if they are or are not subject to the Regulation. Since the Regulation strengthens data protection principles, requires organisations to demonstrate compliance and ushers in greater enforcement powers for regulators, it is essential for all organisations, public and private, local, national or global, to understand in what circumstances the Regulation will apply to their use of personal data. This entry is an excerpt from Hogan Lovells’ “Future-proofing privacy: A guide to preparing for the EU Data Protection Regulation.”
On 9 March, the Council of the EU issued a partial general approach on a key chapter of the EU Data Protection Regulation which has implications for the regulation of health data. The Council’s stance has been welcomed by a number of healthcare commentators as it promotes a more flexible approach to the use of health data and accords with the tenor of the revised version of the draft Regulation that emerged from the Council in December last year.
Undoubtedly one of the more mind-bending exemptions to apply under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) is the exemption for personal information (s.40) (although sections 30 and 36 are also up there!). This is partly due to s. 40’s close link with the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). Not one to hog the limelight, the DPA has typically been cited in past litigation as a secondary or even tertiary issue to the main action when there is a claim for breach of confidence or breach of privacy. This led to a scarcity of judicial rulings on the DPA prior to the FOIA. However, in the Tribunal and higher court decisions flowing from the FOIA, certain aspects of the DPA have frequently been examined when public authorities seek to rely on the s. 40 exemption. Consequently there have been a number of rulings on the scope of personal data and on the ‘legitimate interests’ ground as a legal basis for disclosing such information. These rulings have been based on the DPA which itself implements the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. But the Directive is due to be replaced by an EU Regulation in the next few years. What will this mean for how the s. 40 exemption under FOIA is interpreted?
Technology has transformed and disrupted long standing industries as well as created new industries along the way. The digital revolution in the healthcare industry appears to have been long promised but much delayed. There may be a number of understandable reasons why the wheels have not turned so quickly. For instance, unlike say the financial services industry which is private sector led, the healthcare industry has obvious public sector touch points which can make any sort of change slower. But just as information about an individual’s bank balance or salary is considered confidential, so a person’s health information is particularly sensitive, both in a legal sense (because health information is categorised as sensitive under EU data protection law) but also in an obviously everyday sense – people feel that their health information (in most but not all circumstances) is private.
All eyes are currently on the Council of the EU to figure out when and in what form we are likely to see a new EU data protection law emerging. The adoption of this law, which has been in the making since the European Commission presented its vision for a modern privacy regime in 2010, will have vital and global implications for the future of our data-driven existence. This explains the cautious progress so far, but the need for a modernised regime is pressing. Six presidencies have so far managed the adoption process within the Council—which together with the European Parliament has legislative responsibility for passing EU laws—and each has made its own contribution to the process. But the Council has been the key focus of attention of the ongoing legislative process since the European Parliament approved its own draft of the EU Data Protection Regulation in early 2014.
The chairwoman of the French data protection authority (the CNIL), Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, has long been an outspoken proponent that companies should have internal accountability mechanisms for data protection compliance. On January 13, 2015 the CNIL published a standard defining what accountability means in practice. Companies that demonstrate that they comply with the new standard will be able to obtain an “accountability seal” from the CNIL.
On 7 November 2014 the Polish Parliament passed the Act on the Facilitation of Business Activity which substantially amends the existing Act on Personal Data Protection. As we previously reported, this new Act requires an administrator for information security to be given an independent position within the data controller’s organization. Additionally, the new Act introduces provisions facilitating the transfer of personal data to countries outside the European Economic Area (further implementing provisions from Directive 95/46/EC and the proposed draft General Data Protection Regulation). The new law will come into force on 1 January 2015.
At the heart of EU data protection law is the passionate belief in the right to privacy. Indeed, the Treaty of Lisbon has now recognised both privacy and data protection as fundamental rights under EU law. As fundamental rights, there is a sense in which the scope of privacy and data protection must be expanded to the furthest extent possible. Yet, like any other law, it must be clear when and where EU data protection rules apply and the applicable law provision in the current Data Protection Directive has caused some headaches along the way. Whether the proposed new EU regime will prove to be a calming tonic remains to be seen. Today’s technology pays no attention to geographic borders. What do Cloud Computing networks care about the Atlantic Ocean so long as the network is resilient and customers can access their data? Businesses typically structure their systems in order to provide the best commercial proposition which often (but not always) involves cross-border data transfers. Therefore, cross-border data transfers are a part of everyday business. But businesses need to understand which laws apply to their operations to ensure compliance and avoid being chased by regulators or disgruntled customers. Unfortunately, the Directive’s provision concerning when it applies has not always provided much clarity.
Assuming a fair amount of hard work and that the EU institutions are able to put their political skills to good use, 2015 may be the year that sees the culmination of a legal modernisation process that has been running for the best part of four years. It was in 2010 when the European Commission formally acknowledged that the 1995 Data Protection Directive was ready for a makeover to address the privacy and data protection needs of the 21 century. Since then, stakeholders covering a whole spectrum of views have participated in a process that is approaching a decisive stage. In early 2014, the European Parliament came forward with a bold proposal to amend the Commission’s original draft and put the ball firmly in the Council of the EU’s court. As the Council finalises its own proposal, a picture of what the new framework will look like is starting to emerge.
On 12 March 2014, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the European Commission’s data protection reform with 621 votes for, 10 against, and 22 abstentions for the proposed General Data Protection Regulation. The vote is significant because it confirms the approval of the European Parliament, one of the required participants in the s0-calle “trilogue” process along with the Commission and the Council, which will not change even if the composition of the Parliament changes following the European elections in May.
Data Protection Day in Europe, 28 January 2014, saw the announcement by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding of a more precise timetable for the adoption of the EU’s data protection reform package, comprising a Regulation governing general data protection and a Directive governing the use of personal data in the area of law enforcement and crime. The Council of the EU will agree upon a formal negotiating mandate by the end of June 2014, with a view to inter-institutional negotiations concluding by the end of 2014.
The Council of the EU failed to make any progress towards the adoption of an agreed negotiating position on the Data Protection Regulation at its meeting on Friday, 6 December 2013. While momentum had begun to build following the vote by the EU Parliament’s LIBE Committee in October, expectations of progress within the Council were dampened by the formal agenda circulated before the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Committee met, which tabled a review of the current state of play and detailed discussion of the one-stop-shop issue.