Tag: Article 29 WP

WP29: Guideline for profiling and automated decision-making

19. October 2017

The Article 29 Data Protection Working Party (WP29) adopted a guideline for the automated individual decision-making and profiling which are addressed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR will be applicable from the 25th May 2018. WP29 acknowledges that “profiling and automated decision-making can be useful for individuals and organisations as well as for the economy and society as a whole”. “Increased efficiencies” and “resource savings” are two examples that were named.

However, it was also stated that “profiling and automated decision-making can pose significant risks for individuals’ rights and freedoms which require appropriate safeguards”. One risk could be that profiling may “perpetuate existing stereotypes and social segregation”.

The Guideline covers inter alia definitions of profiling and automated decision-making as well as the general approach of the GDPR to these. It is addressed that the GDPR introduces provisions to ensure that the use of profiling and automated decision-making does not have an “unjustified impact on individuals’ rights” and names examples, such as “specific transparency and fairness requirements” and “greater accountability obligations”.

WhatsApp required to appoint a representative in The Netherlands

16. December 2016

Background

On the 22nd November, the Administrative Court of the Hague confirmed the fine imposed by the Dutch DPA to WhatsApp. In 2012, the Dutch DPA investigated WhatsApp because it had not yet appointed a representative in the Netherlands, according to current Dutch Data Protection legislation. As WhatsApp had still not complied with its obligation to appoint a representative in the EU in 2014, it imposed a fine of 10.000€ for each day of non-compliance.

The Dutch DPA remarked that WhatsApp had the obligation to appoint a representative in The Netherlands because it acted as Data Controller, as it was processing personal data of Dutch citizens. When a user searched for a contact in order to send a WhatsApp message to this contact, WhatsApp accessed this information and stored it in its U.S. servers. Therefore, WhatsApp had to be considered as a data controller in terms of the EU Directive on Data Protection and the Dutch Data Protection Act.

Current situation according to the EU Directive

The Dutch Administrative Court based its argumentation on the following key aspects:

  • WhatsApp is a controller, as already admitted by the company at oral argument.
  • The equipment used by Dutch data subjects, this is the mobile device, is located in Dutch territory. Moreover, according to previous positions of the WP 29 and other EU Courts, mobile devices are also considered as equipment in terms of data processing.
  • WhatsApp argued that Dutch Data Protection Act imposes additional requirements than those imposed by the EU Directive, so that a representative appointed by a data controller has also to comply with the Dutch Data Protection Act. However, the Dutch Court clarified that the extension of the responsibility of the Data Controller to the representative aims at filling legal gaps regarding the application of the data protection principles. The Court also specified that an agreement between the data controller and the representative may be needed in these cases, in order to agree on liability issues.
  • WhatsApp also argued that it should have been requested to appoint just one representative in the EU, as foreseen in the GDPR. The Dutch Administrative Court pointed out that WhatsApp had no representative in any other EU Member State.
  • Finally, WhatsApp alleged that it could not find a party willing to asume this role, but the Court rejected this argument as it has no legal basis.

Will this change with the GDPR?

With the GDPR the requirement to appoint a representative in the EU will change in two ways:

  • Also processors will be subject to this obligation
  • it will be possible to appoint one single representative for all the EU operations.

Under the GDPR it will be mandatory to appoint a representative for those controllers or processors who are based in a third country and they offer goods or services to data subjects in the EU or if behavior monitoring of these data subjects takes place in the EU.

Moreover, the GDPR distinguishes between the representative and the role of the DPO. The requirements to appoint each of them are different but it may occur that a company is obliged to appoint both, only a representative, or a DPO.

ICO: confirmation about new guidelines in terms of the GDPR

30. November 2016

Elizabeth Denham, UK Information Commissioner, participated at the Annual Conference of the National Association of Data Protection and Freedom of Information Officers during which she gave a keynote speech. In her statement Denham explained that the UK prepares for the upcoming GDPR. She confirmed the government’s position that the GDPR will be implemented in the UK as well – Brexit aside.

Denham’s statement includes that the first regulatory guidance on the GDPR can be expected to be published by the Article 29 Working Party at the end of this year. It is believed that this guidance will probably make a number of key aspects of the GDPR of discussion.

Another point of her speech included the fact that the Article 29 Working Party is about to release a concept of risk under the GDPR and carrying out Data Privacy Impact Assessments at the beginning of 2017.

Furthermore, it was mentioned that the Article 29 Working Party aims to publish guidance in terms of certifications under the GDPR.

The Article 29 Working Party talks about the EU-U.S. Umbrella Agreement

2. November 2016

The Article 29 Working Party published a statement on the EU-U.S. Umbrella agreement at the end of October.

On one side, the statement shows signs of support for the EU-U.S. Umbrella Agreement. However on the other side, it delivers recommendations in order to make sure that the agreement is compliant with European data protection law.

In general, the Article 29 Working Party supports the creaction of a general data protection framework in order for international data transfers to be compliant with national, European and international data protection laws.  Therefore, the Article 29 Working Party elaborates that the respective agreement “considerably strengthens the safeguards in existing law enforcement bilateral treaties with the U.S., some of which were concluded before the development of the EU data protection framework”. 

However, it is also mentioned that clarification is needed in terms of definitions, for example how to define personal data and data processing, due to the fact that European and U.S law have different opinions on what is meant by these terms.

The Article 29 Working Party put a bad light on Yahoo and WhatsApp

31. October 2016

The IAPP reported, that the Article 29 Working Party issued a warning concerning possible violations of European data protection regulations in form of a letter to both Yahoo and Whatsapp.

Both companies have been topic of public debate due to the way they handle the personal data of users. The concerns of the Article 29 Working Party regarding WhatsApp are that the company shares data with Facebook. Whereas, the objections towards Yahoo are raised due to both data breaches in 2014 and due to the allegation that the company scans incoming user emails for U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Therefore, the Article 29 Working Party requests that both companies provide more information on the problems. It can not be ruled out that investigations are launched and fines are imposed.

Amendments to adequacy decisions and decisions on European Model Clauses?

25. October 2016

After a meeting of the Article 31 Committee, the European Commission disclosed two drafts concerning the implementation of amendments to the existing adequacy decisions and decisions on EU Model Clauses.

First of all, adequacy decisions determine whether a third country provides adequate safeguards in order to protect personal data. These decisions are made by the Commission after an assessment of the national laws and international commitments in terms of data protection of the respective country. In the following, countries which are established to be adequate are added to the Commission’s “white list”. Therefore, data transfers can be made from the EEA to that country without any further legal requirements.

The opinion concerning these amendments is divided. Some European Member States which participated at the Article 31 Committee meeting were for implemnting theses amendments. However, other European Member States requested more time in order to consider the proposed changes.

Due to this conflict another meeting has to be scheduled to which the  Article 29 Working Party will be aksed to contribute by presenting its views on the respective changes.

Article 29 WP releases its opinion on the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield

14. April 2016

The Article 29 WP, represented by the DPAs from the EU Member States, issued yesterday its opinion on the proposed draft of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield.

Background

Under the Safe Harbor framework, personal data transfers from the EU to the U.S. have been carried out since the year 2000. In October 6th, 2015, the ECJ declared this framework invalid, as it considered that it did not ensure enough safeguards regarding the protection of personal data from EU citizens. In February 2016, the EU Commission and several American Authorities drafted the new framework that shall replace the Safe Harbor Agreement. The draft has been now analyzed by the EU DPAs, who remark the necessity to clear and define some concepts.

Critical aspects of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield identified by the Article 29 WP

The Article 29 WP does not believe that, in general terms, the current draft of the Privacy Shield ensures a level of data protection equivalent to that in the EU. The most relevant aspects of the published document could be summarized as follows:

  • Data retention periods are not defined in any of the principles of the framework. This means that companies could keep personal data even if they do not renew their Privacy Shield membership. This contravenes the principle of data retention limitation according to EU data protection legislation.
  • The scope and definition of the purpose limitation concept is described under the notice, the choice and the data integrity and purpose limitation principles. However, in each of these principles is the purpose limitation principle differently defined, what leads to an inconsistent definition of this concept.
  • Also the concept of onward transfers has been critically analyzed by the Article 29 WP. Under this principle, Privacy Shield members may legitimately carry out data transfers to third parties. This involves the risk that the recipient of the data does not ensure the same level of data protection as stipulated according to the EU data protection legislation.
  • The redress mechanism available for EU data subjects may be too complex for the data subjects themselves. The Article WP29 recommends that the local DPAs represent the data subjects or act as intermediaries so that they can exercise their rights in Europe.
  • Finally, the Privacy Shield includes certain guarantees regarding the surveillance activities by U.S. authorities. However, the massive collection of personal data from EU citizens is not fully excluded. Regarding this, the institution of the Ombudsman has been created. According to the Article 29 WP, its functions and legitimation are not sufficiently defined.

The Working Party has requested the EU Commission to clarify these aspects and adopt the corresponding solutions, so that the Privacy Shield ensures an equivalent level of data protection to that in the EU. Particularly, it has recommended to introduce a glossary of terms in the “Privacy Shield FAQ” and a review of the Privacy Shield draft after the GDPR becomes effective, in order to ensure that the Privacy Shield reflects the level of protection reached by the GDPR.

What next?

Since the opinion of the Article 29 WP is not binding, the EU Commission could proceed further with the approval of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. However, it will consult a Committee of representatives of the EU Member States before issuing its final decision. Until a final decision is reached, the mechanisms to carry out international data transfers are limited to Binding Corporate Rules and Standard Contractual Clauses.