Category: EU Commission

EU Commission: Draft for adoption of adequacy decision for Japan

6. September 2018

The EU Commission has drafted the adequacy decision for Japan including next steps Japan has to undertake in order to ensure protection for the transfer of personal data from the EU to Japan. This includes additional safeguards Japan should apply, as well as commitments regarding access to personal data by Japanese public authorities.

Japan has committed to implement several safeguards that are necessary for the protection of the transfer of personal data before the actual adoption of the adequacy decision. These include,

  • a set of rules providing additional safeguards for transferred personal data of EU individuals (addressing inter alia the topics protection of sensitive data and the further transfer of personal data from Japan to another third country),
  • safeguards concerning the access to personal data by Japanese public authorities for criminal law enforcement and national security purposes,
  • a complaint-handling mechanism for Europeans regarding the access of Japanese authorities to their personal data.

The Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, said: “We are creating the world’s largest area of safe data flows. Personal data will be able to travel safely between the EU and Japan to the benefit of both our citizens and our economies. Our partnership will promote global standards for data protection and set an example for future partnerships in this key area.”

The next step in the adoption procedure of the adequacy decision is the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), which will be asked for his opinion.

Category: EU · EU Commission · General
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EU Commission: Using Personal Data In Political Campaigns

29. August 2018

Following the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica case, the EU Commission intends to prohibit the misuse of Collection data of voters in order to influence elections. As the Irish Times reports, the EU Commission is drafting an amendment to existing party funding rules prohibiting parties profiting from data collections of the kind as alleged against Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica has been accused of obtaining information of millions Facebook users without the data subjects’ consent by using a personality-analysis app during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

It is expected that sanctions will have the extent of approximately 5 percent of the annual budget of a political party. An official said “it is meant to ensure that something like Cambridge Analytica can never happen in the EU”.

Considering the upcoming election of the European Parliament in May 2019, various measures are to be recommended or imposed by the EU Commission that shall be followed by the member states in order to prevent misuse of voters’ personal data or the online manipulation of voters. While it is intended to recommend the governments to watch over and clamp down on groups sending personalized political messages to users of social media without their consent, the member states shall also be stricter about the transparency requirements of political advertisement on national level by amending national law.

Last month, Vera Jourova, EU justice commissioner, said: “voters and citizens should always understand – when something is an online campaign – who runs the campaign, who pays for it and what they want to achieve.”

However, she also made clear that the EU will respect free expression and that the EU is not going to regulate online activities of political parties. “The internet is a zone for free expression. Everybody can be a journalist or an influencer, and these are the things that we don’t want to touch”, she stated.

Japan and the EU are establishing an environment of data protection between its citizens (and companies)

18. July 2018

As part of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the European Union and Japan have signed the 17th July 2018, the two parties recognise each other’s data protection laws as equivalent. In this manner, personal data will flow in the future safely between the EU and Japan.

In Europe, a committee composed of representatives of the EU Member States has to give its consent and the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) publishes its opinion before the European Commission adopts the adequacy decision. Once the agreement is established, EU citizens and 127 Million Japanese consumers will benefit from international trading that includes the high privacy standards of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Japanese companies now have to comply some safeguards to fulfil the European data protection level, like the protection of sensitive data, the requirements for transfer of data to a third country or the exercise of individual rights to access individual rights (compared to Art. 12 – 23 of the GDPR). The Japanese watchdog (PPC) will implement these rules as well as a complaint-handling mechanism to investigate and resolve complaints of European citizens concerning the data processing of Japanese controllers.

This agreement is a result of the communication Exchanging and Protecting personal data in a globalised world, announced by the Commission in January 2017.

EU Adequacy Approach for Japan and South Korea

29. June 2018

These days the European Commission is focussing on talks with Japan and the Republic of Korea in order to advance the process towards mutual adequacy findings. Therefore,  the European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourová recently visited Japan’s Justice Minister, Yōko Kamikawa, and Commissioner of the Personal Information Protection, Haruhi Kumazawa, along with Korean Chairman of the Communications Commission Lee Hyo-seong to make progress on the approached adequacy deals. The engagement of all parties in allowing the free flow of personal data between the EU and Japan as well as the EU and South Korea started in 2017 by discussing to reaching an “adequacy decision“.

At the meeting in Tokyo, the two parties “took note of the significant progress achieved in the past month” referring, “in particular, [to] the agreement on solutions to bridging relevant differences between the two systems such as the Supplementary Rules, to be adopted by the Personal Information Protection Commission (PPC) following the public comment procedures, coupled with the Basic Policy on the Protection of Personal Information (Cabinet decision).” In addition, “they affirmed that the Personal Information Protection Commission and the European Commission will continue to consult each other with a view to finding mutually acceptable solutions whenever there is a need for cooperation with respect to personal data based on the framework for mutual and smooth transfer of personal data between Japan and the EU.”

In Seoul, Chairman Lee Hyo-seong and Commissioner Vera Jourová also held a very productive meeting, and “took note of the significant progress made since Korea submitted its request for partial adequacy and agreed that the two parties share very similar values with respect to human rights, with both sides recognising personal data protection as a fundamental right.” Furthermore, “they agreed to intensify their efforts to accelerate the pace of discussion.” The adequacy talks are very likely to be finalized in 2018, especially considering the fact that there are many similarities of South Korea’s “Personal Information Protection Act”  with the GDPR. However, concerning a final decision on the adequacy, another meeting in Brussels is planned later this year.

Currently the European Commission has recognised 12 countries for being able to ensure an adequate level of data protection, including Andorra, Argentina, Faroe Islands, Guernsey, Israel, Isle of Man, Jersey, New Zealand, Switzerland and Uruguay.

Update on ePrivacy Regulation

12. June 2018

The council of the European Union’s Bulgarian presidency has released a progress report on the draft ePrivacy Regulation ahead of a council meeting June 8th, 2018.

The ePrivacy Regulation (Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications) should replace the current ePrivacy Directive and was originally intended to enter into force together with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on May, 25th 2018.

The report offers several updates including its scope and link to the GDPR, processing of electronic communications content and metadata, among others. Latter mentioned has been one of the main concerns of the Member States. The balance between privacy and innovation regarding processing of metadata seems to be a key aspect of the ePrivacy Regulation.

Furthermore, significant changes of privacy settings according to the future Art. 10 are important for the Commission. The providers of software are only obliged to inform the end-users about the settings and the way the end-users may use them, at the time of installation or first usage and when updates change the privacy settings.

The report ends with three questions for the policy debate at the TTE Council on June 8th. Among others, the versions relating to the permitted processing of metadata and the protection of terminal equipment and privacy settings are open for discussion if it is an acceptable basis to move forward.

WP29 Guidelines on the notion of consent according to the GDPR – Part 2

3. April 2018

Continued from the article about the Working Party 29 (WP29) guidelines on consent, additional elements of the term should be considered as consent plays a key role for the processing of personal data.

The GDPR requires consent to further be specific, i.e. the data subject must be informed about the purpose of the processing and be safeguarded against function creep. The data controller has to, again, be granular when it comes to multiple consent requests and clearly separate information regarding consent from other matters.

In case the data controller wishes to process the data for a new purpose, he will have to seek new consent from the data subject and cannot use the original consent as a legitimisation for processing of further or new purposes.

Consent will also be invalid if the data controller doesn’t comply with the requirements for informed consent. The WP29 lists six key points for consent to be informed focussing on the aspect that the data subject genuinely needs to understand the processing operations at hand. Information has to be provided in a clear and plain language and should not be hidden in general terms and conditions.

Furthermore, consent has to be an unambiguous indication of wishes, i.e. it must always be given through an active motion or declaration. For example, the use of pre-ticked opt-in boxes is invalid.

However, explicit consent is required in situations where serious data protection risks emerge such as the processing of Special categories of data pursuant to Art. 9 GDPR.

In general, the burden of proof will be on the data controller according to Art. 7 GDPR, without prescribing any specific methods. The WP29 recommends that consent should be refreshed at appropriate intervals.

Concerning the withdrawal of consent, it has to be as easy as giving consent and should be possible without detriment.

The WP29 also recommends that data controllers assess whether processing of data is appropriate irrespective of data subjects’ requests.

How is a company transferring data with a non-European company able to ensure the data-protection standard according to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

21. March 2018

A trading deal between two companies often includes a high number of coincidentally transferred personal data. From the 25th May 2018 on the new GDPR regulates the data flow in the European Economic Area (EEA) that consists of all the members of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The future status of Great Britain will be primarily the status of a third country.

Otherwise, business relationships to companies from non-EU or EEA States (like the USA, China, …) cannot guarantee the data protection standard of the GDPR automatically. Especially since the overruling of the “safe-harbour” agreement of the EU with the USA by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), every company that transfers data over the Atlantic is obligated to fulfil the data protection by itself. The European Commission (EC) recommends in its communication from the 10th January 2017 the use of so-called standard contractual clauses (SCC) or binding corporate rules (BCR), when an EU-based company transfers personal data to a non-EU based company or non-EU based entity of its corporate group.

This has a wide impact to the daily trade deals that are made all over Europe with third country companies. The EU recommends the data protection going hand in hand with the trading deals, to ensure the relatively high data protection level, which is based on Article 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Especially until the ePrivacy-Regulation of the EU is not in force, every company has to ensure the standard of the GDPR by implementing a privacy policy, in which transfers of data to a third country has to be mentioned.

In conclusion, a company that trades with third country companies needs to enter a special data protection contract with the trading partner and needs to inform its clients by its privacy policy.

United Kingdom become a third country after Brexit

29. January 2018

Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union and EU leads to United Kingdom become a third country.

The European Commission annouced, that on 30.03.2019, 00:00h (CET) the United Kingdom will no longer be member of the Union and EU, all Union and secondary law will cease to apply.

That means, tat all stakeholders processing personal data need to consider the legal repercussions of Brexit, beacuse as of the withdrawal date, the EU rules for transfer personal data to third countries apply. GDPR allows a transfer if the controller or processor provides appropriate safeguards.

Safeguards may be provided by:

  • Sandarad data protection clauses (SCC)
  • Binding corporate rules (BCR)
    • legally binding data protection rules approved by the competent data protection authority which apply within a corporate group
  • Condes of Conduct
    • Approved Codes of Conduct together with binding and enforceable commitments of the controller or processor in the third country
  • Certification mechanisms
    • Approved certification mechanisms together with binding and enforceable commitments of the controller or processor in the third country

Besides a transfer may take place based on consent, for the performance of a contract, for exercise of legal claims or for important reasons of public interest.

These procedures are already well-known to business operators beacuse they are uses today for the transfer of personal data to non EU-countries like the USA, Russia or China.

The decision is disappointing for everyone who were hoping for an adequate level of data protection in the United Kingdom.

Stakeholders should prepare for the requirements associated with recognition as a third country.

Category: EU Commission · European Union · GDPR · UK
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WP29 Guidelines on the notion of consent according to the GDPR – Part 1

26. January 2018

According to the GDPR, consent is one of the six lawful bases mentioned in Art. 6. In order for consent to be valid and compliant with the GDPR it needs to reflect the data subjects real choice and control.

The Working Party 29 (WP 29) clarifies and specifies the “requirements for obtaining and demonstrating” such a valid consent in its Guidelines released in December 2017.

The guidelines start off with an analysis of Article 4 (11) of the GDPR and then discusses the elements of valid consent. Referring to the Opinion 15/2011 on the definition of consent, “obtaining consent also does not negate or in any way diminish the controller’s obligations to observe the principles of processing enshrined in the GDPR, especially Article 5 of the GDPR with regard to fairness, necessity and proportionality, as well as data quality.”

The WP29 illustrates the elements of valid consent, such as the consent being freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. For example, a consent is not considered as freely given if a mobile app for photo editing requires the users to have their GPS location activated simply in order to collect behavioural data aside from the photo editing. The WP29 emphasizes that consent to processing of unnecessary personal data “cannot be seen as a mandatory consideration in exchange for performance.”

Another important aspect taken into consideration is the imbalance of powers, e.g. in the matter of public authorities or in the context of employment. “Consent can only be valid if the data subject is able to exercise a real choice, and there is no risk of deception, intimidation, coercion or significant negative consequences (e.g. substantial extra costs) if he/she does not consent. Consent will not be free in cases where there is any element of compulsion, pressure or inability to exercise free will. “

Art. 7(4) GDPR emphasizes that the performance of a contract is not supposed to be conditional on consent to the processing of personal data that is not necessary for the performance of the contract. The WP 29 states that “compulsion to agree with the use of personal data additional to what is strictly necessary limits data subject’s choices and stands in the way of free consent.” Depending on the scope of the contract or service, the term “necessary for the performance of a contract… …needs to be interpreted strictly”. The WP29 lays down examples of cases where the bundling of situations is acceptable.

If a service involves multiple processing operations or multiple purposes, the data subject should have the freedom to choose which purpose they accept. This concept of granularity requires the purposes to be separated and consent to be obtained for each purpose.

Withdrawal of consent has to be possible without any detriment, e.g. in terms of additional costs or downgrade of services. Any other negative consequence such as deception, intimidation or coercion is also considered to be invalidating. The WP29 therefore suggests controllers to ensure proof that consent has been given accordingly.

(will be soon continued in Part 2)

One year Privacy Shield

7. November 2017

The EU-US Privacy Shield is intended to protect the data of EU citizens from the US scouting device. Critics, however, have serious doubts as to whether this is currently the case. The transatlantic data package has been in operation for over a year and has now undergone a first review. The Privacy Shield is the successor to the Safe Harbor Agreement, which was repealed in a sensational ruling by the European Court of Justice.

The purpose of the Privacy Shield is to achieve a similar level of data protection in the US as in the EU, so that the data of the EU citizens in the US are just as protected as here on land. In particular, it should be achieved:

the data should be safe from excessive mass surveillance by US authorities (eg the NSA),
an ombudsperson established in the State Department that EU citizens can contact directly,
no indefinite storage of personal data of EU citizens by companies.

2400 companies have been certified for the Privacy Shield since its introduction. These include industry giants like Amazon, Tesla, Facebook and Google. Therefore, the importance of the Privacy Shield as a data protection regulation can not be denied. In addition to the certification remain as a legal basis only standard contractual clauses.

The first review shows, however, that the Privacy Shield is still controversial and the central demands, such as the Ombudsman, have not yet been implemented by the US government. In addition, US President Trump has already shortly after taking office, the privacy of non-Americans by way of a decree.

Nevertheless, responsible EU Justice Commissioner Vera Journová is not dissatisfied with the first year. While it is warned that the Ombudsperson should be appointed as soon as possible, she is confident that the US is now taking the concerns of Europeans seriously.

However, critics continue to complain that too little is done to enforce existing claims and that the Privacy Shield does not meet the requirements set out in the Safe Harbor ruling.

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