In May 2023, the Spanish Supervisory Authority (“SA”) issued a detailed guidance paper on GDPR compliance in the context of data spaces.  The paper acknowledges EU and Member State level initiatives for the creation of data spaces (such as the Data Governance Act, the proposed Data Act, and the proposed European Health Data Space) and provides insight into how the SA expects companies to meet their GDPR obligations when participating in those data spaces.

Data spaces, such as the European Health Data Space, are ecosystems for sharing data between entities. Participating in data spaces raises challenging data privacy questions as data spaces often involve the sharing of individuals’ personal data.

The paper provides guidance on the classification as GDPR controllers or processors of the entities that are typically involved in data spaces, such as data holders, data users, data space mediators, technical and legal enablers, supervisors of access requests, and competent authorities. 

The paper also analyses how the GDPR principle of privacy-by-design applies to different use cases for data spaces, depending on how they are implemented, the types of data processed, and the processing tools used.  For example, the paper recommends deploying anonymization, pseudonymization and data minimization techniques before data is stored in data spaces, as well as implementing other safeguards such as encryption (see the SA’s guidance on encryption) and federated learning techniques (see the SA’s guidance on federated learning).  It also examines the requirements applying to “secure processing environments” (i.e., the infrastructure on which the data is stored) under the Data Governance Act and the European Health Data Space.

The last section of the paper discusses how various GDPR requirements apply in the context of data spaces – for example, obligations to: (i) appoint a data protection officer; (ii) conduct a data protection impact assessment; (iii) implement risk management processes, safeguards, and security measures for data sharing; (iv) ensure data governance and cooperation between the various entities involved; (vi) ensure the transparency and traceability of processing and support the exercise of data protection rights.  The paper also provides a list of 34 topics that should be covered in a data protection policy for processing within the framework of a data space.

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The Covington team continues to monitor and advise on developments relating to data spaces, including the implementation of the Data Governance Act and developments relating to emerging EU and Member State laws regulating data spaces, such as the Data Act and the European Health Data Space.  If you have questions about data spaces, we are happy to assist.

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Photo of Kristof Van Quathem Kristof Van Quathem

Kristof Van Quathem advises clients on information technology matters and policy, with a focus on data protection, cybercrime and various EU data-related initiatives, such as the Data Act, the AI Act and EHDS.

Kristof has been specializing in this area for over twenty…

Kristof Van Quathem advises clients on information technology matters and policy, with a focus on data protection, cybercrime and various EU data-related initiatives, such as the Data Act, the AI Act and EHDS.

Kristof has been specializing in this area for over twenty years and developed particular experience in the life science and information technology sectors. He counsels clients on government affairs strategies concerning EU lawmaking and their compliance with applicable regulatory frameworks, and has represented clients in non-contentious and contentious matters before data protection authorities, national courts and the Court of the Justice of the EU.

Kristof is admitted to practice in Belgium.

Photo of Anna Oberschelp de Meneses Anna Oberschelp de Meneses

Anna Sophia Oberschelp de Meneses is an associate in the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group.  Anna is a qualified Portuguese lawyer, but is both a native Portuguese and German speaker.  Anna advises companies on European data protection law and helps clients coordinate…

Anna Sophia Oberschelp de Meneses is an associate in the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group.  Anna is a qualified Portuguese lawyer, but is both a native Portuguese and German speaker.  Anna advises companies on European data protection law and helps clients coordinate international data protection law projects.  She has obtained a certificate for “corporate data protection officer” by the German Association for Data Protection and Data Security (“Gesellschaft für Datenschutz und Datensicherheit e.V.”). She is also Certified Information Privacy Professional Europe (CIPPE/EU) by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).  Anna also advises companies in the field of EU consumer law and has been closely tracking the developments in this area.  Her extensive language skills allow her to monitor developments and help clients tackle EU Data Privacy, Cybersecurity and Consumer Law issues in various EU and ROW jurisdictions.