The complexity of the EU General Data Protection Regulation is often alleviated by the guidance of regulatory authorities who contribute their practical interpretation of the black letter of the law and provide welcome certainty. However, the latest draft guidelines issued by the Article 29 Working Party on automated decision-making has thrown up a particular curve ball which bears further investigation. It relates to whether Article 22(1) of the GDPR should be read as a right available to data subjects or as a straightforward prohibition for controllers.
The Information Commissioner’s Officer ruled, on 3 July 2017, that the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust had failed to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 when it provided 1.6 million patient details to Google DeepMind as part of a trial diagnosis and detection system for acute kidney injury, and required the Trust to sign an undertaking. The investigation brings together some of the most potent and controversial issues in data privacy today; sensitive health information and its use by the public sector to develop solutions combined with innovative technology driven by a sophisticated global digital company. This analysis provides insight on the investigation into Google DeepMind with focus on how the General Data Protection Regulation may impact the use of patient data going forward.
On 7 August 2017, the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport published its Statement of Intent on a proposed Data Protection Bill, which will replace the current UK Data Protection Act 1998. The Bill is designed to fully implement the two new laws emanating from the EU – the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Law Enforcement Directive – in an effort to make the UK’s transition out of the EU as smooth as possible from a data protection perspective and to ensure that both commercial and law enforcement data flows ‘remain uninterrupted after the UK’s exit from the EU’.
A close observer of the GDPR will have noticed that, in several places, individual EU Member States can implement derogations from the GDPR requirements. Of course, as a regulation under EU law there is less scope for local flexibility under the GDPR than under the current EU Data Protection Directive 95/46. Yet the GDPR does, in a number of key areas, allow an EU Member State to set down local laws that could allow a more locally relevant flavour to a particular aspect of compliance. The closing date for submitting views is Wednesday, 10 May 2017.
Last week, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office published a monetary penalty notice, which fined a private healthcare company, HCA International, £200,000 for its failure to keep sensitive data secure.
The 2016 holiday gift guides have heavily featured consumer drones; as such, it is not unfeasible that you or someone you know will receive a drone in the coming weeks. In anticipation of that happy event, on 21 December the UK Department for Transport gave its own gift: a consultation paper on ensuring the safe use of drones, to help the UK to tap into this growing market.
In yet another key case dealing with the balance between citizens’ privacy and the ability of the state to intrude into it, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled on the compatibility with European Union law of legislation that authorises the retention of communications data, which includes personal data. The reference from the UK Court of Appeal resulted from a challenge to the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 brought by individuals that include Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party and represented by Liberty. Interveners include the Law Society of England and Wales, the Open Rights Group, and Privacy International. The CJEU considered the compatibility of such legislation with the e-Privacy Directive, Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union—which protect private and family life and personal data respectively—and its previous decision in C-293/12 Digital Rights Ireland—which invalidated the Data Retention Directive.
On 6th July, the UK Government published two independent reviews concerning data security and data sharing in the health and care system in England. At the same time the UK Government launched a public consultation on proposals resulting from these reviews. The public consultation will be of interest to organisations that regularly interact with the public health sector in the UK and in particular to those organisations that rely on access to health data from the NHS for research purposes.
The European Commission has actively promoted the importance of mHealth following their 2014 consultation. One of the initiatives to emerge from the Commission has been the Privacy Code of Conduct for mHealth apps. The Code was drafted by a working group set up in January this year and the final draft was published on 7th June and submitted to the Article 29 Working Party for their consideration and approval. If and when it receives the Working Party’s approval it could then be relied upon by app developers wishing to demonstrate a good standard of data protection compliance. The Code is an example of the type of initiative that is increasingly likely to develop under the forthcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation.
From the moment that the Chairman of the Article 29 Working Party, Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, announced at a press conference on 3rd February this year that the Working Party would assess the standing of the EU-US Privacy Shield under EU law, privacy professionals have been waiting to see what the Working Party’s view would be. Earlier this week, on 13th April, the Working Party provided their initial opinion. On the one hand, the Working Party welcomed the significant improvements of the Privacy Shield as a positive step forward. Yet, on the other hand, the Working Party set out their strong concerns on the commercial aspects of the Privacy Shield and the ability for US public authorities to access data transferred under the Privacy Shield. The opinion concluded by urging the European Commission to resolve these concerns and improve the Privacy Shield.
Significant changes are afoot for processors. With the text of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation now published, processors will need to begin to acclimatise to the new regime under the GDPR. Although the GDPR still places the lion’s share of compliance responsibilities on controllers, it also extends direct application of the law to processors and renders them subject to fines, in an effort to allocate responsibility between the parties.
To what extent are the personal communications sent by an employee from their employer’s computer private? In Europe it has been accepted for some years that employees do not lose their right to privacy in the workplace. However a recent decision from the European Court of Human Rights confirms the rights of the employer to restrict employees from any personal use of the employer’s computer equipment and, consequently, rely on a contravention of the restriction (which is revealed through monitoring) as grounds for dismissal.
The EU General Data Protection Regulation has been called the most lobbied piece of legislation in the history of the EU. Before Christmas last year, what is likely to be the final text of the GDPR emerged from the EU trilogue negotiations. Victoria Hordern, Senior Associate at Hogan Lovells, explores what the new GDPR will mean for those collecting and handling health data, and examines a number of the provisions and themes that impact the use of health data.
National EU member state courts, as well as the European Court of Justice, have struggled for several years to define the scope of application of EU data protection law in individual member states. In a decision that provides important guidelines on the competence of, and co-operation between, national data protection authorities, the ECJ has clarified how data protection law applies in cross-border situations within the EU.
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.
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.