Europe

Covid 19 Data Sharing – Pragmatic Insights from the EU and U.K. Regulators

We expect national and international privacy regulators to take a pragmatic and reasonable approach to helping organisations navigate data protection compliance during the current COVID-19 crisis. This week, both the European Data Protection Supervisor (the “EDPS”) and the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (the “ICO”) have shown that expected pragmatism. READ MORE

Guidance from E.U. Supervisory Authorities on Data Processing in a Time of COVID-19

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and a number of European data protection supervisory authorities have recently issued guidance on processing personal data, including special categories of personal data (i.e., health data), in connection with COVID-19. While the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) generally harmonizes data protection laws across Europe, E.U. Member States may derogate from the law in certain circumstances, including in matters of “public interest.” It is therefore critical for companies to keep abreast of the latest guidance issued by supervisory authorities in jurisdictions relevant to their businesses to ensure they comply with any local law guidance. READ MORE

ICO FINES: WHEN IS AN APPEAL APPEALING?

The decision to appeal a regulatory finding is never taken lightly. By the time a regulator has completed its investigation and notified a company of its intention to fine, the company will have invested significant time and money in responding to the regulatory investigation. As such, there is a real temptation to accept the fine and the accompanying statement from the regulator and move on.

However, in the case of recent regulatory findings, fines and intentions to fine issued by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (the “ICO”) against British Airways, Marriott and Dixons Carphone, all three  companies have appealed or indicated an intention to appeal despite the significant difference in the levels of the fines/intentions to fine. In our view, this is related to the spectre of an emerging class action litigation culture in the UK that increases the stakes for any company facing negative regulatory findings.

In this UK-focused blog we explore the potential motivation behind these decisions to appeal, why we expect to see more companies taking this approach in the future, and the steps to be taken in order to appeal decisions by the ICO and we also consider whether the companies that have failed to appeal and are now facing class actions made the right decision when they elected not to appeal.

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A Survival Guide for GDPR Enforcement Actions from a German Perspective – How to Assess and Mitigate Fines for GDPR Violations

Since the first enforcement actions have been initiated, some with significant fines, many companies may find themselves somewhat at a loss as they may not fully know how to assess the risks involved and how to react should an enforcement action be initiated against them. Here we will give a high-level overview on risks and strategies in enforcement actions. READ MORE

German regulator issues record fine for keeping personal data too long

The Data Protection Supervisory Authority for the state of Berlin (Die Berliner Beauftragte für Datenschutz und Informationsfreiheit, “Supervisory Authority”) recently issued a fine for GDPR violations against Germany’s second largest housing company Deutsche Wohnen SE (“DW”) for retaining personal data without legal justification. The amount of the fine, EUR 14.5m, is the highest issued by a German Supervisory Authority for data protection infringements so far and the first to be in the millions. Germany is thus following the trend of increasing fines set by other EU Member States’ authorities, such as the UK, France and Austria in particular. READ MORE

EUR 30,000 for “a simple cookie banner”?!? – Spanish Supervisory Authority fines airline for non-compliance

The Spanish supervisory authority agencia española protección datos (“Supervisory Authority”) has issued a fine (the original Spanish document can be accessed here) against an airline based on their use of a cookie banner, which the Supervisory Authority considered not to be compliant with privacy provisions.

In issuing the fine, the Supervisory Authority referred to Art. 22.2 of the Spanish Act of the Services of the Information Society and Electronic Commerce (Ley de Servicios de la Sociedad de la Información—“LSSI”) rather than the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). Art. 22.2 LSSI is based on the ePrivacy Directive, which is still in effect and is not replaced by the provisions of the GDPR—we note, however, that the ePrivacy Directive would likely be replaced by the provisions of the proposed ePrivacy Regulation, which is still being negotiated.

This fine highlights the European data protection authorities’ continued concern over the collection of personal information through cookies and other tracking technologies and should thus attract the attention of companies that provide websites to customers in the EU. The decision might set the standard for fines on the lack of consent for cookies and is in line with the rather conservative view of the European Court of Justice (“CJEU”) in its recent court decision, which explicitly referred to the GDPR (please also see our blog post on the CJEU’s decision). READ MORE

E-Commerce Businesses Beware: The Freedom to Contract does not Trump Reasonable Privacy Expectations

The EDPB’s new Guidelines on Article 6(1)(b) may severely limit e-commerce business’ ability to enhance data processing by unilaterally defining contractual services.

On October 8, 2019, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) released the “Guidelines 2/2019 on the processing of personal data under Article 6(1)(b) GDPR in the context of the provision of online services to data subjects” (the “Guidelines”) after public consultation. The text of the Guidelines is available here. Largely in line with previous guidance, the EDPB takes the view that companies cannot expand legal justifications for data processing operations based on broader definitions of their services. The legal justification of a processing for performing a contract does not cover processing operations, which, reasonably, the individuals would not expect when entering into the contract. Businesses should thus carefully review the legal justifications for the processing operations and be prepared to consider limitations on certain data processing should individuals object. READ MORE

No Consent, No Cookie! CJEU Issues Far-Reaching Decision on Cookie Consent

In its long-awaited judgment, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) decided the data protection requirements for obtaining consent when using cookies. The court held that “passive” acceptance of cookies through prechecked boxes, or by posting a banner and assuming consent with continued browsing of the website, is not an acceptable form of consent. According to the CJEU, “consent” requires active behavior in the form of interaction with the banner, or some other affirmative action indicating consent. The court held that website operators must ensure this level of consent prior to placing any cookies that require consent for storing or accessing information stored on the user’s device. The court’s decision removes all legal ambiguities on the level of consent required for cookies, and website operators are wise to review their use of cookies as a result.

This alert will analyze the CJEU’s decision, provide a summary of the current regulators’ views and give practical guidance on what website operators should do. READ MORE

New law decreases the number of companies required to designate a Data Protection Officer in Germany

On June 28, 2019, the German parliament (Bundestag) passed new legislation imposing several changes to the current German Federal Data Protection Act (“BDSG”).  Although many of the changes addressed privacy aspects of criminal proceedings, the new legislation makes an important change for small companies by increasing the threshold to designate a Data Protection Officer (“DPO”). Whereas currently companies have to designate a DPO if they constantly employ at least 10 employees who deal with the automated processing of personal data, the new legislation increases the minimum number of employees from 10 to 20, significantly decreasing the financial and administrative burden for small companies doing business in Germany. This article explains the changes and their impact and explains what companies should do.

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Bavarian Data Protection Supervisory Authority Concludes After “Safer Internet Day Raid” that Investigated Companies Fail to Obtain Appropriate Cookie Consent

The Bavarian Data Protection Authority (“BDPA”) took the “safer internet day” in February 2019 as an opportunity to conduct privacy checks on website operators. The focus was on “cybersecurity” (in particular, password security) and “tracking” and the outcome is rather disillusioning, according to the BDPA. The BDPA stated that necessary security measures were not implemented and none of the cookie banners obtained valid consent. The BDPA announced it would conduct further checks via written procedures or even by on-site inspections to validate the quick check results and assess whether further actions must be taken. In those cases where the BDPA is not competent, the BDPA will consider reaching out to competent lead supervisory authorities where necessary so that they can provide their insights. READ MORE