Category: Personal Data

Database operators in Sweden exempt from GDPR

24. August 2018

With the GDPR coming into effect, enterprises in Sweden will also be subject to complying with the European principles and adhering to the GDPR.

However, new amendments and changes to the country’s constitution will be required to harmonise existing laws.

Due to the fact that Sweden emphasizes freedom of press and speech, it will initially make exemptions in cases where elements don’t comply with its Freedom of the Press Act of 1766.

As a consequence, current laws give database operators a broad freedom to gather and release personal data enabling them to collect and distribute personal information from a broad range of sources, including the national tax office.

The database operators and online publishers Eniro, Ratsit and Hitta are some of the companies that will be exempt until an expert group has drafted new and stricter legislation regarding the processing of personal data by these.

It is expected that the relevant laws will be amended in the first half of 2019.

Teenager hacked Apple’s internal network

22. August 2018

A 16-year-old boy from Melbourne, Australia broke into Apple‘s internal computer systems and downloaded 90GB of data, as reported by Australian newspaper The Age. The teenager acquired possession of “authorised keys“ and had access to Apple’s network for approximately a year.

Last year Apple reported the incident to the FBI who then pointed it out to the Australian Federal Police (AFP). They found the sensitive documents in a computer folder named “hacky hack hack“. Apple succeeded to keep this incident out of media until the court proceedings last week.

The 16-year-old boy has pleaded guilty. According to his lawyer, the teenager broke into the network because he is a huge apple fan who wants to work for the company in the future. A verdict is expected at the end of September.

Apple is now trying to reassure its customers. According to a spokesman of the company, no personal data was compromised.

Data of patients disclosed in Singapore’s largest data breach in history

30. July 2018

A cyberattack has impacted data of 1.5 Mio patients of SingHealth clinics by stealing name, ID Card number, address, gender, race and date of birth as reported by ARN Net.

Due to “operational security reasons”, the authorities haven’t disclosed the identity of the responsibles behind the attack.

Even Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, “had his personal particulars stolen as well as his outpatient dispensed medicines record.”

The report further states that all patients, whether or not they were affected will receive an SMS notification over the next five days, with patients also able to access the Health Buddy mobile app or SingHealth website to check if they are affected by this incident.

According to Channel Asia the SingHealth IT system was compromised through an initial breach on a particular front-end workstation, gaining privileged account credentials to gain access to the database.

It is believed that the attack began on June 27th, 2018 and was detected on July 4th, 2018. Apparently, no further illegal exfiltration has been detected since and all Patient records in SingHealth’s IT system remain intact.

Several measures have been taken in terms of IT-security such as controls on workstations and servers, resetting user and systems accounts and installment of additional system monitoring controls.

New Zealand: Privacy after death does matter

27. July 2018

Data protection rights generally refer to living persons only. Among others, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) explicitly mentions in its Recital 27 that the Regulation does not apply to the personal data of deceased persons.

However, the Recital also contains an opening clause for the EU Member States, stating that these may provide for specific rules for such cases. The GDPR hereby acknowledges that there might be cases that need to be tackled individually.

For example, requests can be made in order to find out whether the deceased had suffered from a hereditary disease. This information is not to be seen as protected for the offspring that might be affected by it.

Consequently, there will be situations that contain mixed information on both the deceased and the requestor.

The Privacy Commissioner’s Office (OPC) of New Zealand has now released a statement regarding the privacy of deceased persons on July 24th, 2018 taking up this exact issue.

Whereas the Privacy Act of New Zealand also defines an individual as a “natural person, other than a deceased person”, the OPC states that “sometimes it will be inappropriate to release the personal information of the dead”.

The OPC further says that “some information is inherently sensitive, for example mental or sexual health information. It could be unfair to release such information to those who are just curious and have no good reason to see it.”

Ultimately, it will often be necessary to balance the rights and elaborate case by case, also taking into consideration the wishes of the deceased person to some extent.

Data breach exposes data including trade secrets from several large carmakers

24. July 2018

A security researcher from the UpGuard Cyber Risk Team detected that various data from carmakers like Volkswagen, Ford and Toyota were exposed. UpGuard is an Australian cybersecurity group that among other things detects data breaches.

The source of the data leak is a small Canadian company called Level One Robotics and Controls. On a publicly accessible backup server of the engineering company were files from more than a hundred companies in business with said company. Belonging to the group of companies affected by the leak are some of the biggest carmakers like Tesla, VW, Toyota, General Motors, Chrysler and ThyssenKrupp.

The 47.000 unsecured files contained inter alia product designs, invoices, bank accounts and contracts. Some of these data are among the industry’s most closely guarded and confidential trade secrets. In addition, a number of non-disclosure agreements explaining the sensitivity of the leaked information formed part of the exposed data.

The researcher issued a leakage warning and since then the accessible information was taken offline within 24 hours.

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.

Protection against automated decision making with personal data becomes a human right

30. May 2018

Regardless the new data protection legislation in the EU, the worldwide standard of data protection increases too. Through the “Amendment of the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (mostly known as “profiling”)” the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will apply this expansion of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in the future.

For the last four decades, the Convention has been the only international legally binding instrument for the protection of privacy and personal data open to any country in the world. The aim of the amending is now to modernise and improve the Convention, taking into account the new challenges to the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data that have occurred since the adoption of the Convention in 1980. In particular, this concerns new information and communication technologies, which require a different type of protection mechanism against privacy.

As for any other human right listed in the ECHR, any person can submit an individual application if she/he is violated by one of the contracting parties of the ECHR. This seems to be interesting especially regarding the investigation through profiling by national security authorities all over the European continent.

However, the adoption of the amendments also raises some questions. Particularly with regard to the relationship between European Union law and the Convention, which does not contain any explicit provisions in this respect, as well as deviations in the scope of application. Therefore the ECtHR will comment hopefully before the first lawsuits will start.

Category: Personal Data

In China National Standard on Personal Information Security (GB/T 35273-2017) Went into Effect

14. May 2018

On May 1, 2018, the Information Security Technology – Personal Information Security Specification (the “Specification”) went into effect in China. The Specification not mandatory and it is not possible to enforce it directly. Nonetheless, it could become important in the sense of guideline or reference for their administration and enforcement agencies.
The “Specification” embodies a framework concerning the collection, retention, use, sharing and transfer of personal information.

The Information Security Technology – Personal Information Security Specification establishes primary rules for personal information security, notice and consent requirements, security measures, rights of data subjects and requirements related to internal administration and management.
It distinguishes between personal information and sensitive personal information. For the latter exist specific obligations for its collection and use.
Under the the „Specification“, sensitive personal information means information such as personal identity information (ID card or passport number), financial information (bank account number or credit information) and biological identifying information (fingerprint or iris information).

Even though the “Specification” is not binding it may become significant within China because it constitutes benchmarks for the processing of personal information by a wide variety of entities and organizations. Companies that collect or process personal information should make sure that their practices in China are in compliance with the „Specification“.

Category: General · Personal Data
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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.

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)

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