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.
Please join us for our Upcoming 2018 Privacy and Cybersecurity Events.
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.
Following the European Commission and European Parliament’s proposed versions of the EU Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications, we are now waiting for the Council of the European Union to agree their position before discussions between the three bodies can begin. A discussion paper from the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council dated 11 January 2018 shows that the Council is still considering multiple options in relation to several critical issues.
Making predictions for the year ahead is possibly as desirable as unreliable. In a world of unlimited data and advanced science, it would be tempting to think that the future is already written. Algorithms and artificial intelligence will show us what lies ahead with immaculate accuracy. Or perhaps not. At least not yet. To say that the world is in turmoil is an understatement and the same is true of the world of privacy and data protection, which makes predicting the future particularly tricky. But since the urge to plan, budget and prepare for what is likely to happen next is so real, now is a good time to pause, reflect about what’s going on, and make some predictions for 2018.
Please join us for our November 2017 Privacy and Cybersecurity Events.
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.
On September 13, the U.K. government introduced in Parliament the Data Protection Bill. The main aim of the bill is to implement the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 into U.K. domestic law. However, as perhaps reflected in the length and complexity of the bill, it is also intended to do several other things. This post outlines key observations on the structure and content of the bill.
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 September 5, the European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling in the case of Bărbulescu v. Romania that affirms employees’ right to privacy in the use of communications tools in the workplace. Although the ruling is strict, it aligns with the positions taken by the national courts of certain European Union Member States (e.g., Germany) and guidance issued by data protection authorities. And the criteria that the ECHR adopts for assessing the lawfulness of monitoring generally aligns with the requirements under the General Data Protection Regulation, which takes full effect on May 25, 2018. In our post, we summarize the ruling and identify key takeaways for companies that monitor workforce use of information systems and tools in the EU.
The German Ministry of Interior affairs has published an English translation of the new Federal Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz – BDSG). On 27 April 2017 the German Parliament passed the BDSG in order to make use of the opening clause provided for in the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This bill has been controversial; see here for an interview with Jan Albrecht, Stefan Brink and Tim Wybitul.
The new BDSG replaces its national predecessor, which has been in force for the last 40 years. The new BDSG is the first step toward adapting national German member State law to the provisions of the GDPR. With an effective date of 25 May 2018, the new BDSG will also form the basis for the adaption of further German data privacy acts to the GDPR. We note that several ministries have already indicated that they are preparing specific data privacy provisions concerning special processing situations like social security data protection, and we expect these provisions to follow the implementation of the BDSG.
This overview summarizes the major implications of the BDSG for companies operating in Germany.
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 new law will ensure that the United Kingdom retains its world-class regime protecting personal data”. This is today’s strong statement by Her Majesty The Queen reflecting the level of priority given by the UK government to privacy and data protection. Aside from the political controversies surrounding the recent general Election and the prospect of Brexit, the Queen has confirmed that during this Parliament the government intends to pass a new Data Protection Act replacing the existing one.
The European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs commissioned a study to assess the European Commission’s draft e-Privacy Regulation, which was published in January 2017. The e-Privacy Regulation aims to harmonise privacy rules across the EU in the area of electronic communications, but the study has found that the draft e-Privacy Regulation does not as far as the GDPR in some respects. This contrasts with many other views expressed publicly, which regarded the Commission’s draft as a tightening of the GDPR regime. A central theme of the study, which was carried out by academics of the IViR Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam, is the need to protect privacy of correspondence regardless of medium or any other factor. The EU legislative institutions are urged to pay extra attention to four areas in which it is felt that there is insufficient protection of the right to privacy and confidentiality of communications. We explore these issues in the following post.
Exactly one year before the EU General Data Protection Regulation becomes applicable, global law firm Hogan Lovells has launched GDPRnow, a mobile application that provides companies with assistance to identify practical steps to comply with the new framework. Conceived entirely in-house by the firm’s Privacy and Cybersecurity team, GDPRnow is the first app ever aimed at generating a GDPR compliance action plan specific to an individual business’s activities.
On 27 April 2017 the German Parliament passed an entirely new Federal Data Protection Act. The new BDSG replaces the old BDSG, which has been in force for the last 40 years. The new BDSG shall adapt the German law to the provisions of the EU General Data Protection Regulation. The new BDSG will now form the basis for the adaption of German acts to the GDPR. Further acts concerning special processing situations like social security data protection are likely to follow.
The steady trickle of GDPR guidance from the Article 29 Working Party continues. Fresh from finalising its guidance on data portability, lead supervisory authorities and data protection officers, the Working Party has published draft guidance on data protection impact assessments, the full text of which is available on the Working Party website. Comments can be submitted to the Working Party by 23 May 2017, after which the guidance will be finalised.
On 19 April 2017, the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published a report on cyber security breaches and how they affected UK companies in the last year. The report indicates that a number of UK companies have not implemented comprehensive cybersecurity policies or implemented strong safeguards to protect against cyber attacks. The General Data Protection Regulation — in particular the requirement to ensure all personal data is protected by appropriate technical and organisational measures — provides a real opportunity for any organisation to build a new cyber security strategy. Documenting the decisions taken on these measures will be useful for showing compliance with the new requirements for data protection by design and by default.
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.
The Article 29 Working Party held its April plenary meeting last week, where it continued its work preparing for the GDPR, adopted an opinion on the draft e-Privacy Regulation, and discussed the annual review of Privacy Shield.
The UK ICO has published what it describes as a feedback request on profiling and automated decision-making, with the intention that responses will “help inform the UK’s contribution to the WP29 guidelines due to be published later this year.” The deadline for responses is 28 April.
If you care enough about privacy issues to be a regular reader of this blog, you probably know that one of the Big Changes under GDPR will be the introduction of “accountability” as a legal obligation, i.e. it will now be a requirement that a data controller is able to demonstrate its compliance with the principles relating to processing of personal data set out in Article 5 of the GDPR. You may even have started thinking about what this means for your organisation: how are you going to get your development teams to adopt privacy by design and default? What are you doing about data minimisation? Do you apply appropriate levels of encryption to your personal data? In our ever-more digitally driven world, it’s easy to get caught up in the sophisticated stuff, but a recent UK ICO decision reminds us that accountability is about the simple stuff as well. Which brings us to filing cabinets.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has issued a £70,000 fine against Flybe and a £13,000 fine against Honda Motor Europe Ltd for breaching Regulation 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations by sending emails requesting individuals to update their marketing preferences.
The UK Information Commissioner’s Office has just published draft guidance on consent under GDPR. This is an interesting move given that the Article 29 Working Party has promised guidance on the same topic later this year, but reading the guidance makes it clear why the ICO decided to prioritise it: many of the practices which it identifies as unacceptable are fairly common in the UK, meaning many companies are going to have to re-think their approach to legitimising their data processing.