Category: General Data Protection Regulation

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.

The EEA EFTA States incorporate the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) soon

9. July 2018

On 20th of July 2018 the European Data Law will come into effect also in the three EFTA States (Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein). This has been the result of the incorporation Agreement by the EEA Joint Committee in Brussels on July 6th 2018.

Before the GDPR becomes applicable throughout all three states, each of the states shall notify the agreement by a parliamentary process.

As usual for the EEA Joint Agreements, the EFTA States are obligated to implement the EU Regulation and they are affected by the Jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The supervisory authority of the EFTA States also participates in the activities of the European Data Protection Board, without having the right to vote and to stand for election as chair or deputy chairs of the board.

Switzerland is not part of this agreement and has its own legal basis for data protection.

Data breach at Panini’s online service ‘MyPanini’

2. July 2018

According to a report in the magazine ‘Der Spiegel’, personal data and images of users who wanted to create Panini images with their own photos could be accessed by third parties.

The Italian scrapbook manufacturer for football images Panini has serious problems with the security of their online customer database. Through changing the browser’s URL, unauthorized persons could have accessed personal data of other customers, including pictures of minors. Therefore, the case can be considered as particularly serious.

Through its ‘MyPanini’ service, Panini offers fans the opportunity to upload photos with their own images and have these personalised images sent to them. Until a few days ago, logged in users could have also seen the uploaded images and personal data of other customers. Apparently the full name, the date of birth and partly even the place of residence of the customers are listed.

To a certain degree, the uploaded images showed children and young children from different countries in the private domestic environment, some even with their naked upper body.

The data breach was confirmed and has been known internally for days. Supposedly, the problem has been solved by a security update, but it is not possible to access the website at the moment.

It remains to be seen what financial consequences the data breach has for either Panini or the technical service provider. In accordance with new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) infringements of the provisions can lead to administrative fines up to 10 000 000 EUR or up to 2% of the total worldwide annual turnover of the preceding financial year.

The French Constitutional Council ruled in favour of the new data protection law implementing the EU General Data Protection Regulation

20. June 2018

The Senators referred the recently adopted data protection law to the Constitutional Council (‘Conseil Constitutionnel’) to prevent its promulgation on time for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to enter into force on last May 25. Now that the law has overcome the constitutional obstacle, it is expected to be promulgated in the next days.

The decision of the Constitutional Council (Décision n° 2018-765 DC) on June 12 demonstrates that the senators questioned the constitutionality of a number of Articles, e.g. 1, 4, 5, 7, 13, 16, 20, 21, 30 and 36.

Initially, the validity of universal law was weighed against the objective of constitutionality in terms of legislative accessibility and intelligibility. The senators argued that the implementation with the provisions of the GDPR was not clear and could “seriously mislead” citizens about their rights and obligations with regard to data protection.
The Council did not endorse this reasoning, stating that the law was readable and that Article 32 of the law referred to actually empowered the Government to take the measures required “in order to make the formal corrections and adaptations necessary to simplify and ensure consistency and simplicity in the implementation by the persons concerned of the provisions bringing national law into compliance” with the General Data Protection Regulation.

Furthermore, the constitutionality of most of the above-mentioned Articles was established. Nonetheless, Article 13 of the law amends Article 9 of the current law, according to which personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences or related security measures may only be processed “under the control of an official authority” or by certain categories of persons listed in the law. However, according to the Council, it is only a reproduction of Article 10 of the GDPR, without specifying the categories of persons authorised to process such data under the control of the authority, or the purposes of such processing. The words “under the control of the official authority” are not specific enough and therefore unconstitutional. This terminology will not be found in the promulgated law.

For France this symbolises a major step forward to join the small circle of European countries that have succeeded in implementing the GDPR at a national level.

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.

Spanish Football League app uses microphones and GPS to detect illegal broadcasting

11. June 2018

The official smartphone app of the Spanish football league (La Liga) can activate the microphone to search for unlicensed public broadcasts of league matches. Those responsible have admitted that the app activates the microphone during the league games in order to find out whether a public broadcast is taking place approximately to the smartphone. In addition, the app uses GPS to determine the exact location where the audio clip was recorded. If an unlicensed, public transmission is determined, the operators of the app receive a notification and can take action against those establishments.

Similar to other countries, Spanish establishments can only show pay-tv broadcasts of football matches in their restaurants with a special license. According to the league, unlicensed performances result in losses amounting to 150 million euros per year and the data obtained will only be used to fight piracy. With the help of the app the fans are to be acquired as “informers” in order to get to the scammers. The app is quite popular and was downloaded at least 10 million times.

The practice was revealed because of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which entered into force on May 25th 2018. The fact that the microphone authorisation is used for this purpose had not been explained in the terms of use. It merely said that the microphone was used for analysis of the audience. Due to the GDPR, in the newly data protection declaration it says that the app tries to find out via microphone whether the user is watching football and is searching for fraud. However, users in Spain have the possibility to revoke the permission to access the microphone at any time (iOS and Android), but must do so in the settings of their smartphone.

Data protection risks with regard to WhatsApp and Snapchat on business phones

6. June 2018

The use of the chat services WhatsApp and Snapchat on smartphones used for business purposes will in future be forbidden for employees of the automotive supplier Continental: For data protection reasons, the employer prohibits its employees from downloading the apps. This ban affects approximately 36,000 mobile phones worldwide.

The ban is based on the fact that social media services access users’ address books and thus personal (and possibly confidential) data. The messenger apps do not restrict access to personal data in their settings, so Continental consequently decided to ban the apps from service mobile phones to protect business partners and its own employees.

Under the current terms of use, users of WhatsApp agree to provide contact information “in accordance with applicable laws”. WhatsApp hereby shifts its data protection responsibility to its users, who in fact confirm that they have obtained a corresponding declaration of consent for data processing from every person in their address book. The social media service will be aware that this is practically impossible to guarantee.

In order to ensure an adequate level of data protection, the latter would therefore be obliged to design the default settings to conform to data protection requirements. Such a change could also have a positive effect on the company itself, considering that this would remove the breeding ground for the prohibition. WhatsApp could then be used on countless other smartphones.

Under the new GDPR: Complaints against Google, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook

1. June 2018

On the 25th of May, the day the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force, noyb.eu filed four complaints over “forced consent” against Google (Android), Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook.

The complaints filed by the organisation (None Of Your Business) led by Austrian activist Schrems could result in penalties worth up to 7 billion euros. Max Schrems has been fighting Facebook over data protection issues for almost ten years. His earlier lawsuit challenged Facebook’s ability to transfer data from the European Union to the United States (“Safe Harbor”).

The activist alleged that people were not given a “free choice” whether to allow companies to use their data. Noyb.eu bases its opinion on the distinction between necessary and unnecessary data usage. “The GDPR explicitly allows any data processing that is strictly necessary for the service – but using the data additionally for advertisement or to sell it on needs the users’ free opt-in consent.” (See https://noyb.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/pa_forcedconsent_en.pdf) The organisation also claims that under Art. 7 (4) of the GDPR forced consent is prohibited.

The broadly similar complaints have been filed in authorities in various countries, regardless of where the companies have their headquarters. Google (Android) in France (data protection authority: CNIL) with a maximum possible penalty in the amount of 3.7 billion euro although its headquarter is in the USA. Instagram (Facebook) in Belgium (DPA). WhatsApp in Hamburg (HmbBfDI) and Facebook in Austria (DSB). All of these last three have their headquarters in Ireland and could face a maximum possible penalty in the amount of 1.3 billion euro.

New Austrian Data Protection Law – undermining GDPR

8. May 2018

Austria’s governing parties passed a new law on data protection in the last month. This new law, which was intendet to implement the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), complicates the enforcement of the new EU-wide data protection rules. This developement is result of a change in policy. Three years ago Austria’s justice minister complained that the EU’s forthcoming data protection rules were to weak, nowadays, the new government in Vienna says they are too strong.

It has been suggested, that the governing parties in Vienna are trying to turn the coountry into a sort of ‘safe haven’ – by complicating enforcement of the GDPR.

Purpose of the GDPR is, inter alia, to hand back the control of personal data to the data subjects. This aim could be undermined by the new provisions regarding the sanctions.

The GDPR stipulates, that sanctions are imposed by DPAs without any condition and without a room for specification or changes to member states’ law. In contrast to this the new Austrian data protection law contains a term that requires warnings before launching sanctions against violating firms. It must be feared, that most infringements will go unpunished.

The responsibles of the Austrian Data Protection Authority tried to weaken the concerns: The authority will still decide on a case-by-case basis whether to impose administrative fines or not – even it is the first violation of the company.

It remains to be seen how the new law will be applied in the future.

Application of the GDPR outside the EU

10. April 2018

When the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on May 25th this year, not only in Europe the handling of personal data will have to change. Companies operating with customer data of EU citizens also have to observe the GDPR worldwide. But which non-European legal entity has to show consideration for the European Data Protection?

In accordance with Article 3 (1) GDPR, the GDPR applies to the processing of data of natural persons in so far as it takes place in the context of an activity of the controller (see Article 4 (7) GDPR) or a processor (see Article 4 (8) GDPR) in the Union. This applies irrespective of whether the data processing takes place on EU territory or in a third country.

If the data subject lives in the EU but the controller / data processor is located outside the EU, the scope of the GDPR according to Article 3 (2) GDPR is applicable if the data processing is related to goods or services offered within the EU (see Art. 3 (2) lit. a)). The GDPR applies cumulatively if the processor carries out a profiling on a EU-citizen (see Art. 3 (2) lit. b)).

Furthermore, the GDPR is also applied outside the EU territory to a controller / data processor who isn’t resident of the EU, if the law of a Member State becomes applicable on the basis of international public law (e.g. in consular or diplomatic matters, or on the basis of private international law).

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