CJEU

On Wednesday October 19, 2016 the Court of Justice of European Union (“CJEU”) issued its judgment in Case C-582/14, Patrick Breyer v Germany. 

The CJEU held that a “dynamic” IP address constitutes personal data (agreeing with the Opinion of the Advocate General from May this year).  Dynamic IP addresses qualify as personal data, even if the website operator in question cannot identify the user behind the IP address, since the users’ internet service or access providers (“ISPs”) have data that, in combination with the IP address, can identify the users in question.

The CJEU concluded that domestic law — in this case, German law — could not adopt a more restrictive interpretation of the “legitimate interests” legal basis for processing than is set out under the EU Data Protection Directive.  In that vein, the continued processing of personal data, without the user’s consent, may be justified as falling within a legitimate interest — e.g., ensuring the continued security or functioning of those websites including to protect against cyberattacks.
Continue Reading CJEU Confirms Dynamic IP Addresses To Be Personal Data

The Article 29 Data Protection Working Party (“Article 29 WP”), an EU advisory body on data protection composed of representatives of the national data protection authorities (“DPAs”), the European Data Protection Supervisor and the European Commission, met in plenary on Thursday, October 15, to discuss the first consequences of the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) in the Schrems case (see our previous blog post here). In a press release (see here) on October 16, they emphasize that “it is absolutely essential to have a robust, collective and common position on the implementation of the judgment.” They will closely observe the pending procedures before the Irish High Court, which is expected to issue a judgment in November, now that the case has been referred back to it by the CJEU.

The key take-aways from the Article 29 WP’s press release are that:

  • data transfers under the European Commission’s Safe Harbor decision after the CJEU judgment are unlawful;
  • the Article 29 WP will analyze the impact of the CJEU judgment on other transfer tools − during this period standard contractual clauses and Binding Corporate Rules (“BCRs”) can still be used;
  • grace period: DPAs will take action, including coordinated enforcement action, if by the end of January 2016 no appropriate solution with the U.S. authorities is found (depending on the assessment of the other transfer tools); and
  • in the meantime, DPAs can investigate in particular cases and exercise their powers to protect individuals, for instance, in case of a complaint.

Continue Reading Article 29 WP On the Schrems Ruling (Safe Harbor) − Latest Developments and Next Steps

On October 12, 2015, the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (“LIBE”) Committee held a debate to discuss the aftermath of the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) ruling in Case C-362/14 Maximillian Schrems v Data Protection Commissioner (see summary of the ruling here and summary of the Advocate-General’s Opinion here).  The debate was chaired by the LIBE Committee Chair, Claude Moraes, and started with a presentation from the European Parliament’s Legal Service.  The Legal Service provided a summary of the CJEU’s decision, and set out the following points:

  • The ruling confirms the importance of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in protecting EU citizens, and the fact that all EU laws must comply with the Charter.  In this case, the Charter rights invoked included the right of all EU citizens to privacy and the right to an effective judicial remedy.  It can be concluded from the CJEU’s ruling that the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC does comply with the Charter.
  • Both the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC provide a high level of protection to EU citizens’ personal data, whether the data are situated inside or outside the EU.  This means that a third country can only be considered to provide “adequate” protection to EU citizens’ personal data when that country itself has strong data protection laws.  The protection provided in a third country need not be identical, but must provide an “essentially equivalent” protection to that guaranteed under EU law.
  • Legislation, whether in the EU or the U.S., cannot legitimately authorize mass or generalized surveillance of EU citizens’ data.
  • The power of local data protection authorities (“DPAs”) to investigate data protection breaches cannot be restricted by the Commission.

Continue Reading Debate in the European Parliament’s LIBE Committee on the Schrems ruling

Today, the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “CJEU”) invalidated the European Commission’s Decision on the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor arrangement (Commission Decision 2000/520 – see here). The Court responded to pre-judicial questions put forward by the Irish High Court in the so-called Schrems case. More specifically, the High Court had enquired, in particular, about the powers of European data protection authorities (“DPAs”) to suspend transfers of personal data that take place under the existing Safe Harbor arrangement. The CJEU ruled both on the DPAs’ powers and the validity of the Safe Harbor, finding that national data protection authorities do have the power to investigate in these circumstances, and further, that the Commission decision finding Safe Harbor adequate is invalid.

This judgment affects all companies that rely on Safe Harbor. They now need to consider alternative data transfer mechanisms.
Continue Reading EU’s Highest Court Invalidates Safe Harbor with Immediate Effect

On October 1st, 2015, the Court of Justice of the EU rendered its judgment in the Weltimmo case (C-230/14).  The case addressed two important aspects of EU data protection law, namely applicable law and the scope of the territorial powers of data protection authorities.

The case arose out of a dispute between Weltimmo, a company registered in Slovakia, which operates property dealing websites concerning Hungarian properties, and the Hungarian data protection authority.  Several advertisers lodged a complaint with the data protection authority, which imposed a fine on Weltimmo for a violation of the Hungarian Law on Information.Continue Reading EU’s Highest Court Rules on Applicable Law and Territorial Powers of the National Data Protection Authorities

By Dan Cooper and Phil Bradley-Schmieg

On March 24, 2015, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) heard arguments in Case C-362/14 (Schrems).  The High Court of Ireland has asked the CJEU whether Ireland’s data protection authority (DPA) — and by extension other EU DPAs — is bound by the Commission’s adequacy decision (Decision 520/2000/EC) with respect to the EU-US Safe Harbor framework, or whether the authority may, or must, conduct an independent investigation into the adequacy of the Safe Harbor in light of subsequent factual developments (potentially prohibiting use of the framework for EU to U.S. transfers).

The impact of the case could be wide-ranging, as thousands of organizations currently rely on the Safe Harbor for transferring personal data from the EU to the U.S., rather than alternative data transfer mechanisms.  Max Schrems, the applicant in the underlying Irish proceedings, argued that given recent allegations as to the freedom with which U.S. intelligence agencies can access EU-originating data from Safe Harbor companies, the Safe Harbor no longer provides adequate protection as a matter of EU law.
Continue Reading CJEU Hears Oral Arguments in Pivotal EU-U.S. Safe Harbor Case

 

  1. The CJEU “Right to be Forgotten” Ruling.  In May 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered an important judgement in a referral from Spain’s National High Court involving Google, a Spanish national, and the Spanish data protection authority (Case C-131/12).  The CJEU’s decision re-interpreted European data protection law to include a so-called “right to be forgotten” that enabled individuals to request search engines to block links that appear on searches of their names if the links go to information that is incomplete, inaccurate, irrelevant, or otherwise damaging to an individual’s privacy.  (This right is limited in the case of public figures, however.)  The decision also found that Google was subject to European data protection law because it operated subsidiaries in Europe whose business was to raise advertising revenues in relation to the search engine’s data processing activities.  The decision triggered an immediate tidal wave of tens of thousands of requests to Google and other search engines that continues to raise controversies to this day.
  1. CJEU strikes down the Data Retention Directive as invalid. In April 2014, the CJEU took the rare step of annulling the controversial Data Retention Directive, which mandated the systematic (“bulk”) retention of communications metadata by telecommunications companies in the EU, for potential access by law enforcement authorities (see our blog post here).  The Court criticised the Directive’s indiscriminate targeting of suspects and non-suspects alike, and the law’s general lack of safeguards, finding that it amounted to an “interference with the fundamental rights of practically the entire European population” contrary to Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.  The Directive’s invalidation raised questions about the continuing validity of the national laws that had implemented the Directive throughout the EU.  In the UK, this lead to the accelerated adoption of substitute legislation, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (“DRIPA”), and its implementing regulations.
    Continue Reading Top 10 International Privacy Developments of 2014

By Fredericka Argent

Last week, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that owners of home surveillance cameras could be breaching the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EU (the Directive), when those cameras are used to monitor public spaces.  The ruling was made following a request from the Nejvyšší správní soud (The Supreme Administrative Court of the Czech Republic) for interpretive guidance.

According to the facts, Mr Ryneš, from the Czech Republic, had set up a camera to monitor the footpath outside of his home in response to a series of break-ins that he and his family had suffered.  One of the suspects of a break-in was subsequently caught on camera, and the video recording was used as evidence in the criminal proceedings that followed.  However, the suspect separately made a complaint to the Czech Data Protection Office that the surveillance system used by Mr Ryneš was unlawful.  The Czech Data Protection Office agreed. Mr Ryneš then brought an action challenging that decision, which was appealed to the Czech Supreme Court.
Continue Reading The EU’s Highest Court Rules That The EU’s Data Protection Directive Applies To Home Security Surveillance Cameras

On November 25, 2014, the Article 29 Working Party agreed guidelines for data protection authorities seeking to apply the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling reached earlier this year against Google, which has become known as the right to be forgotten or “RTBF” ruling.  The full guidelines have not yet been published, but the Working Party has now released a short statement that already addresses some important issues.

The Working Party guidelines are not legally binding, but will influence enforcement decisions made by Europe’s data protection authorities.

These clarifications are written for data protection authorities, but will also help Google and other search engines understand the requirements set out in the CJEU judgment in better detail; we’ll provide more information in a later blog post when the full guidance is released.Continue Reading Article 29 Working Party Agrees Right to Be Forgotten Guidance Following May 2014 CJEU Ruling Against Google

By Jacqueline Clover

The Court of Justice of the European Union (‘CJEU’) has ruled that an analysis produced by an administrative agency to inform and support the agency’s formal decisions (‘legal analysis’) is not of itself “personal data” as defined under Directive 95/46/EC (the ‘EU Data Protection Directive’).  This is the case even where the legal analysis contains information that is clearly “personal data”, such as an individual’s name, date of birth, nationality and gender.  The ruling of 17 July 2014 in Joined Cases C-141/12 and C-372/12 YS v. Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel, and Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel v. M, S, is available here.

It is an important decision for two reasons.  First, it clarifies the boundaries of what constitutes “personal data” under EU law. And, second, it clarifies that a data subject’s right of access under the EU Data Protection Directive does not necessarily require access to the actual records containing personal data. In some cases, a full summary of the personal data in an intelligible form suffices.Continue Reading EU Court of Justice clarifies the definition of personal data and scope of access requests