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On June 1, 2021, several German supervisory authorities (“SAs”) announced the launch of a “nationwide investigation” into German companies transferring personal data outside of the European Economic Area.  Currently, there is no official list of all the SAs participating in the investigation, but at least 8 of Germany’s 16 regional SAs have announced their intention to take part in it, including: Baden Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saarland.
Continue Reading German Supervisory Authorities Probe Data Transfers

On February 18, 2021, the District Court of Berlin overturned a €14.5 million fine that had been imposed on German real estate company Deutsche Wohnen SE.  The Court held that the fine – which was issued by the Berlin Supervisory Authority (“SA”) and had been the second highest fine in Germany so far under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) – failed to satisfy certain rules under German law, and therefore was invalid.

This case raises important questions on the interplay between the GDPR and German law regarding the attribution of regulatory offenses to a company.  In this blog post, we consider this topic in greater depth and how it may eventually be resolved in court.


Continue Reading German Court Overturns GDPR Fine, Raises Legal Questions About Fines Against Companies

Until now, damages claims awarded by German courts pursuant to Article 82 of the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) – in particular, claims for non-material damages – have been relatively low.  This restrained approach thus far has been predicated primarily on the position that German law requires a serious violation of personality rights to justify higher claims for non-material damages.  Two recent cases decided by regional courts illustrate and confirm this prevailing stance.  However, a more recent decision issued by the Federal Constitutional Court indicates that views in Germany may be evolving on this topic, and courts may soon be willing to entertain higher damages claims.

Continue Reading A New Day for GDPR Damages Claims in Germany?

On February 3, 2021, the Conference of the Supervisory Authorities (“SAs”) of Germany (known as the Datenschutzkonferenz or “DSK”) published minutes from its meetings held in November 2020 (available here, in German).  The minutes include discussions about how the German SAs plan to enforce the recent Schrems II ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”).  Notably, the Berlin SA (coordinator of the DSK’s Schrems II task force) sought consensus to ensure a joint enforcement approach.

Continue Reading German Supervisory Authorities Plan to Circulate Questionnaires on Personal Data Transfers in Wake of Schrems II Decision

On January 18, 2021, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) published its draft Guidelines 01/2021 on Examples regarding Data Breach Notification (“Guidelines”) (available here).  The Guidelines aim to assist data controllers in responding to and assessing the risk of personal data breaches, providing “practice-oriented, case-based guidance” which draws from the experiences of European supervisory authorities since the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR” or “Regulation”) went into effect in 2018.

The Guidelines are currently open for public consultation until March 2, 2021.  In this blog post, we summarize a few key takeaways from the Guidelines.


Continue Reading EDPB Publishes Draft Guidelines on Data Breach Notification Examples

On September 7, 2020, the German data protection supervisory authority for Baden-Wuerttemberg (“DPA-BW”) released new guidelines following the Schrems II judgment on how companies should transfer data to third countries. For a more in-depth summary of the CJEU’s Schrems II decision, please see our previous blog post here and our audiocast episode here.

Continue Reading New Guidelines for Companies from German Supervisory Authority (DPA-BW) following Schrems II

On October 1, 2020, the Hamburg Data Protection Authority (“Hamburg DPA”) fined H&M, the Swedish clothing company, over €35 million for illegally surveilling employees at its service center in Nuremberg.  This fine is the largest financial penalty issued by a German DPA to date for a violation of the European General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), and the second highest in Europe issued by any DPA (although other DPAs have announced their intention to issue other larger fines).
Continue Reading H&M Receives Record-Breaking Fine for Employee Surveillance in Violation of the GDPR

On May 28, 2020, the German Federal Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Planet 49 case regarding the consent requirements for the use of cookies. The decision follows the Court of Justice of the European Union’s preliminary ruling of September 10, 2019. The decision has not yet been published, but the court has issued a press release.

The court decided that the use of pre-ticked boxes was not a valid form of obtaining consent for cookies before May 24, 2018 and remains an invalid way of obtaining consent under the GDPR. The court’s decision applies the German provisions on cookies in the German Telemedia Act which it interprets in light of the EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications (“ePrivacy Directive”).
Continue Reading German Federal Supreme Court Issued Cookie Decision in Planet 49 Case

On October 30, 2019, the supervisory authority (“SA”) of Berlin issued a € 14.5 million fine against the real estate company Deutsche Wohnen SE for storing personal data of tenants without a legal basis (Art. 6 GDPR) and for not implementing the GDPR principle of privacy by design (Art. 5 and 25(1) GDPR) (press release

On 28 June 2019, the German Bundestag passed the 2nd DSAnpUG which will amongst other things further adapt the German Federal Data Protection Act („BDSG“), the German Federal Registration Act (“BMG”), the German Act on the Federal Office for Security in Information Technology (“BSI-Act”) and the Act on the Establishment of a Federal Institute for