The role of COVID-19 contact tracing apps in the exit strategy of the current lockdown that is gripping much of the world is increasingly becoming a focus of attention. While that role is being hotly debated, it is very likely that those apps in combination with other measures will be deployed across many countries. Until now and despite the calls by influential bodies such as the European Data Protection Supervisor for a coordinated approach to the development of single COVID-19 mobile app involving the World Health Organization, different countries have adopted their own strategies.
Across the world, large retail stores and small businesses alike are shutting their doors. International flights and sporting events, conferences and concerts (and everything in between) are being cancelled. With all of the cancellations, postponements, and alternative arrangements that are required as a result of this global crisis, plus the special desire of all retail, travel, and other consumer-facing businesses to stay in touch with their customers, many organisations face the critical challenge of getting to grips with the legal rules that apply to those unsolicited communications and interactions.
As highlighted by our new Privacy 2040 initiative, there have never been more opportunities to shape the existing and future privacy and cybersecurity legal framework. Consultations on draft guidance and surveys of various stakeholders are an important step in the production of new rules and materials, and the UK Information Commissioner’s Office and the European Data Protection Board currently have a number of open consultations. The consultation process provides an opportunity to contribute to and to influence regulatory direction. This post lists and discusses a number of consultations which are currently open.
We are announcing the launch today of Privacy 2040, Hogan Lovells’ initiative aimed at shaping the future of privacy and cybersecurity frameworks and practices to support innovation and protect humanity. It’s a big aim, so this is an ambitious, long-term project. Let us explain.
As with anything Brexit-related, the UK government is facing a dilemma in relation to data protection law. Shall we follow the direction of travel of the past 25 years and opt for the continuity and certainty provided by the GDPR or shall we use the departure from the EU to make radical changes to the regulation of data uses and privacy? On the one hand, it would be reassuring to know that despite Brexit’s uncertainties, the current framework is here to stay and it will develop in a familiar way. On the other hand, it must be tempting to use this opportunity to completely re-think what is in the best national interest. For an area of law and policy that is so closely related to technological development and prosperity, it would be foolish not to consider whether a different formulation would lead to better outcomes. A dilemma indeed.
On January 15, the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) Advocate General (AG) Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona delivered his Opinion on four references for preliminary rulings on the topic of retention of and access to communications data. Of the four references, two originated from France, one from Belgium, and one from the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) in the United Kingdom. The latter arose from a challenge by Privacy International to the UK Security and Intelligence Agencies’ (SIAs) powers under the Telecommunications Act 2014 and the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014.
On 1 October 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union handed down a crucial decision impacting the way that consent is obtained on the internet. The judgment relates to Case C-673/17. In the Planet49 case, the German Federal Court referred a number of questions to the CJEU regarding the validity of consent to cookies placed by a website operating an online lottery.
The sky has not fallen. The Internet has not stopped working. The multi-million euro fines have not happened (yet). It was always going to be this way. A year has gone by since the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) (‘GDPR’) became effective and the digital economy is still going and growing. The effect of the GDPR has been noticeable, but in a subtle sort of way. However, it would be hugely mistaken to think that the GDPR was just a fad or a failed attempt at helping privacy and data protection survive the 21st century. The true effect of the GDPR has yet to be felt as the work to overcome its regulatory challenges has barely begun. So what are the important areas of focus to achieve GDPR compliance?
The European Data Protection Board has adopted the narrowest possible interpretation of ‘contractual necessity’ as a ground for processing of personal data. The Guidelines 2/2019 on the processing of personal data under Article 6(1)(b) GDPR in the context of the provision of online services to data subjects (adopted on April 9, 2019 and open for consultation until May 24, 2019) provide a detailed assessment of the regulator’s interpretation of the law.
On 12 March 2019 at its Eighth Plenary Session, the European Data Protection Board adopted its Opinion 5/2019 on the interplay between the ePrivacy Directive and the General Data Protection Regulation. The Belgian Data Protection Authority had, on 3 December 2018, requested that the EDPB examine the overlap between the two laws and in particular the competence, tasks, and powers of data protection authorities. The EDPB adopted its Opinion in response to this request and in order to promote the consistent interpretation of the boundaries of the competences, tasks, and powers of DPAs.
Right now, the whole of the U.K. appears to be on the same spot looking over a precipice. However, this is not the moment to be blind. As politicians struggle to find a magic formula for a prosperous Brexit, businesses are stepping up their efforts to mitigate the damage of a possible “no-deal Brexit.” The data protection community is no different. The proposed withdrawal agreement would have preserved the status quo in data protection terms, at least until the end of the transition period in December 2020. However, if the U.K. leaves the EU without a deal, the implications for international data flows and privacy compliance generally will be severe. Therefore, British pragmatism demands an urgent and thorough approach to preparing for the eventuality of a no-deal Brexit.
Amid the constitutional and political uncertainties surrounding the Brexit process, the UK Government has provided welcome assurance on the data protection front. Guidance issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) confirms how UK data protection law will work in the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Whilst the Government still regards a No Deal Brexit as “unlikely”, given the extremely severe implications of that scenario for transfers of personal data into and out of the UK, the DCMS confirmation is hugely helpful in terms of the preparations needed for that eventuality.
The EU General Data Protection Regulation is now a fully functioning six-month old creature, which has brought with it significant evolutionary changes. One of the most notable innovations of the new European data protection framework is its ambitious extra-territorial application. The introduction of brand new grounds for the applicability of the law was a major development. As a result, and as essential as this is, the GDPR’s territorial scope of application has become one of the most difficult issues to pin down. Therefore, the publication of the European Data Protection Board’s draft guidelines on the territorial scope of the GDPR marks an important milestone in understanding the implications of this influential framework.
The draft text of the EU-UK withdrawal agreement was published by the UK Government and the European Union yesterday, providing some of the first concrete indicators of the possible direction of travel in the area of data protection. In this post, we discuss ten initial conclusions from the draft text.
Unless there is a political earthquake (some would say a miracle) Brexit will happen on 29 March 2019. Upon Brexit the UK will cease to be an EU Member State and become a so-called ‘third country’. As a result, UK-based organisations, which in the context of transfers of personal data to countries outside the EU have always been exporters, will become importers of data originating from the EU. This is a serious concern because transfers of personal data from the EU to third countries are severely restricted. So a key UK Government objective from day one has been to ensure that the UK is regarded as an adequate jurisdiction, which would allow unconstrained transfers of personal data from the EU. But will it be?
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (‘DDCMS’) has today released guidance on “Data protection if there’s no Brexit deal”, which is part of its preparations for if there is a “no deal” scenario when the Article 50 negotiating period comes to an end on 29 March 2019. The UK will become a “third country” on its exit from the European Union, which means that unhindered cross-border transfers of data will no longer automatically be able to take place between the UK and the EU. The guidance confirms that, given the “unprecedented alignment” between the UK and EU data protection regimes, the UK would continue to allow transfers of data from the UK to the EU at the point of exit. However, the Commission has made it clear that they would not make a decision on adequacy until the UK is a third country (that is, after 29 March 2018), and its procedure for reaching a decision typically lasts several months.
At the Privacy Laws and Business’ International Conference, Eduardo Ustaran evaluated the sorts of activities likely to prompt regulators into exercising their increased fining powers under the GDPR. In this post, we provide links to both a video of his presentation at the conference as well as a detailed report about his presentation.
With the current focus on the coming into effect of the EU General Data Protection Regulation, one could (almost) be forgiven for forgetting about the question of international data flows. However, given the political and legal developments currently affecting the future of international data transfers, that would be a very serious strategic mistake. Legitimising data globalisation remains a top business priority in our uber-digitised world. The coming of age of cloud-based services, the continuous advance of mobile communications and the push by developed and developing countries to reach a global market have made international data transfers more essential than ever. At the same time, the level of regulation affecting those transfers is becoming more impenetrable and politically charged. Against this background, what are the issues that need to be taken into account to develop a solid global data flows legal strategy?
Judging by the number of calls and the intensity of the discussions about how to comply with the cookie consent requirement in a post-GDPR world, this issue has become a top worry for organisations and data protection officers. Partly due to the visibility of the mechanisms used to collect this consent, and partly due to the potential implications of operating a website without cookies, the dilemma around what solution to deploy has become a serious business decision. Different business stakeholders are often at odds with each other and matters are getting escalated to decision makers who had never been involved in the technically complex and largely misunderstood world of cookies. The tension is rising and yet, no approach has emerged as the preferred one among all involved. So everyone is getting anxious to find a way to do what they have always done and comply with the law. Is this panic justified?
“European data protection rules will become a trademark people recognise and trust worldwide”. That is how, in January 2012, Viviane Reding – then Vice-President of the European Commission and EU Justice Commissioner – ended her announcement of the widest reform of privacy and data protection law ever attempted. Six years later, this ambitious aim is becoming a reality. Organisations from around the world and well beyond Europe are grappling with the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its impact on their data activities. From Australian banks and South American insurers to US universities and Asian telecoms companies, determining the applicability of the GDPR to their operations has become a critical business decision. As many global companies ponder over the right strategy to privacy compliance, a key question has emerged: which organisations, and under which circumstances, are subject to the territorial scope of the GDPR?
Nothing challenges the effectiveness of data protection law like technological innovation. You think you have cracked a technology neutral framework and then along comes the next evolutionary step in the chain to rock the boat. It happened with the cloud. It happened with social media, with mobile, with online behavioural targeting and with the Internet of Things. And from the combination of all of that, artificial intelligence is emerging as the new testing ground. 21st century artificial intelligence relies on machine learning, and machine learning relies on…? You guessed it: Data. Artificial intelligence is essentially about problem solving and for that we need data, as much data as possible. Against this background, data privacy and cybersecurity legal frameworks around the world are attempting to shape the use of that data in a way that achieves the best of all worlds: progress and protection for individuals. Is that realistically achievable?
It is finally here. This is the year of the GDPR. A journey that started with an ambitious policy paper about modernising data protection almost a decade ago – a decade! – is about to reach flying altitude. No more ‘in May next year this, in May next year that’. Our time has come. Given the amount of attention that the GDPR has received in recent times, data protection professionals are in high demand but we are ready. We knew this was coming and we have had years to prepare. However, even the most seasoned practitioners are at risk of being engulfed by the frantic fire-fighting mood out there. The hamster wheel of GDPR compliance is spinning faster and faster, but it is precisely now when we must look up, see the bigger picture and focus on getting the important things right.
To date, the main legacy of the Brexit referendum of 2016 appears to be a country split in half: some badly wish the UK would continue to be a member of the EU and some are equally keen on making a move. Yet, there seems to be at least one thing on which Remainers and Leavers will agree: nobody knows exactly what is going to happen. The same is true of the effect of Brexit on UK data protection. However, as Brexit day approaches, it is becoming imperative for those with responsibility for data protection compliance to make some crucial strategic decisions. To help with that process, here are some pointers about what we know and what we don’t know.