On January 12, 2023, the Court of Justice of the EU (“Court”) decided that the GDPR’s right of access gives a data subject the choice between asking a controller for (i) the identity of each data recipient to whom the controller will or has disclosed the data subject’s personal data or (ii) only the categories of data recipients.  The controller must comply with the data subject’s request, unless it is impossible to identify those recipients (e.g., because they are not yet known) or the controller demonstrates that the data subject’s access request is “manifestly unfounded or excessive.”

According to the Court, this interpretation of Article 15(1)(c) GDPR is in line with the GDPR’s principle of transparency and is necessary to enable data subjects to exercise their other GDPR rights (e.g., right of rectification, erasure and opposition).  This interpretation is also confirmed by Article 19 GDPR, which expressly grants data subjects the right to receive from the controller the name of each data recipient, in the context of the controller’s obligation to inform all the recipients of the exercise of the data subject’s rights of rectification, erasure and opposition.

The Court’s decision only applies to the right of access.  It is not clear that the same would apply to the transparency provisions in Article 13 and 14 GDPR which also refer to “recipients or categories of recipients”.

*                      *                      *

There are a number of other cases on the GDPR’s right of access pending before the Court (e.g., see blog posts on two other cases).  The Covington Privacy and Cyber team will continue to monitor these cases and report on any relevant Court decisions or Advocate General opinions.

Print:
Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
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.