The French Data Protection Authority, CNIL, made public this week the report of the public consultation it held between 16 and 19 July 2016 among professionals about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The public consultation gathered 540 replies from 225 contributors.
The main issues the CNIL focused on in the consultation were four:
- the data protection officer;
- the right to data portability;
- the data protection impact assessments;
- the certification mechanism.
These are also the four themes in the action plan of the Article 29 Working Party for 2016.
This post (Part I) will summarise the results and action plan for the first two themes, while the last two will be dealt with in a second post (Part II). [Disclaimer: all quotations are translated from French].
1) On the data protection officer
According to Article 37 GDPR, both the controller and the processor must designate a data protection officer where the processing is carried out by a public authority (1)(a), where their core activities consist of processing operations which require regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale (1)(b) and where their core activities consist of processing sensitive data on a large scale (1)(c).
The report reveals that there are many more questions than answers or opinions about how Article 37 should be applied in practice. In fact, most of the contributions are questions from the contributors (see pages 2 to 4). They raise interesting points, such as:
- What is considered to be a conflict of interest – who will not be able to be appointed?
- Should the DPO be appointed before May 2018 (when GDPR becomes applicable)?
- Will the CNIL validate the mandatory or the optional designation of a DPO?
- Which will exactly be the role of the DPO in the initiative for and in the drafting of the data protection impact assessments?
- Which are the internal consequences if the recommendations of the DPO are not respected?
- Is it possible that the DPO becomes liable under Criminal law for how he/she monitors compliance with the GDPR?
- Should the DPO be in charge of keeping the register of processing operations and Should the register be communicated to the public?
- Should only the contact details of the DPO be published, or also his/her identity?
- Must the obligations in the GDPR be applied also for the appointment of the DPO that is made voluntarily (outside the three scenarios in Article37(1))?
- Can a DPO be, in fact, a team? Can a DPO be a legal person?
- Are there any special conditions with regard to the DPO for small and medium enterprises?
The CNIL underlines that for this topic an important contribution was brought by large professional associations during discussions, in addition to the large number of replies received online.
In fact, according to the report, the CNIL acknowledges “the big expectations of professional associations and federations to receive clarifications with regard to the function of the DPO, as they want to prepare as soon as possible and in a sustainable way for the new obligations” (p. 5).
As for future steps, the CNIL recalls that the Article 29 Working Party will publish Guidelines to help controllers in a practical manner, according to the 2016 action plan. (There’s not much left of 2016, so hopefully we’ll see the Guidelines soon!). The CNIL announces they will also launch some national communication campaigns and they will intensify the training sessions and workshops with the current CILs (Correspondants Informatique et Libertés – a role similar to that of a DPO).
2) On the right to data portability
Article 20 GDPR provides that the data subject has the right to receive a copy of their data in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format and has the right to transmit those data to another controller only if the processing is based on consent or on a contract.
First, the CNIL notes that there was “a very strong participation of the private sector submitting opinions or queries regarding the right to data portability, being interesting especially about the field of application of the new right, the expenses its application will require and about its consequences on competition” (p. 6).
According to the report, the right to data portability it’s perceived as an instrument that allows regaining the trust of persons about processing of their personal data, bringing more transparency and more control over the processing operation (p. 6).
On another hand, the organisations that replied to the public consultation are concerned about the additional investments they will need to make to implement this right. They are also concerned about (p. 6):
- “the risk of creating an imbalance in competition between European and American companies, as European companies are directly under the obligation to comply with this right, whereas American companies may try to circumvent the rules”. My comment here would be that they should not be concerned about that, because if they target the same European public to offer services, American companies will also be under a direct obligation to comply with this right.
- “the immediate cost of implementing this right (for instance, the development of automatic means to extract data from databases), which cannot be charged to the individuals, but which will be a part of the management costs and will increase the costs for the services”.
- “the level of responsibility if the data are mishandled or if the data handed over to the person are not up to date”.
The respondents to the public consultation seem to be a good resource for technical options to use in terms of the format needed to transfer data. Respondents argued in favor of open source formats, which will make reusing the data easier and which will be cheaper compared to proprietary solutions. Another suggested solution is the development of Application Program Interfaces (APIs) based on open standards, without a specific licence key. This way the persons will be able to use the tools of their choice.
One of the needs that emerged from the consultation was to clarify whether the data that are subject to the right to portability must be raw data, or whether transferring a “summary” of the data would suffice. Another question was whether the data could be asked for by a competing company, with a mandate from the data subject. There were also questions regarding the interplay of the right to data portability and the right of access, or asking how could data security be ensured for the transfer of the “ported” data.
In the concluding part, the CNIL acknowledges that two trends could already be seen within the replies: on the one hand, companies tend to want to limit as much as possible the applicability of the right to data portability, while on the other hand, the representatives of the civil society are looking to encourage persons to take their data in their own hands and to reinvent their use (p. 10).
According to the report, the Technology Subgroup of the Article 29 Working Party is currently drafting guidelines with regard to the right to data portability. “They will clarify the field of application of this right, taking into account all the questions raised by the participants to the consultation, and they will also details ways to reply to portability requests”, according to the report (p. 10).
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Click HERE for Part II of this post.
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