On May 4, 2020, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) updated its guidelines on consent under the GDPR.  An initial version of these guidelines was adopted by the Article 29 Working Party prior to the GDPR coming into effect, and was endorsed by the EDPB on May 25, 2018.

Continue Reading Updated EDPB Guidelines on Consent and Implications for Cookies

On 19 February 2020, the new European Commission published two Communications relating to its five-year digital strategy: one on shaping Europe’s digital future, and one on its European strategy for data (the Commission also published a white paper proposing its strategy on AI; see our previous blogs here and here).  In both Communications, the Commission sets out a vision of the EU powered by digital solutions that are strongly rooted in European values and EU fundamental rights.  Both Communications also emphasize the intent to strengthen “European technological sovereignty”, which in the Commission’s view will enable the EU to define its own rules and values in the digital age.  The Communications set out the Commission’s plans to achieve this vision.

Continue Reading European Commission’s plans on data and Europe’s digital future (Part 3 of 4)

The European Commission, as part of the launch of its digital strategy for the next five years, published on 19 February 2020 a White Paper On Artificial Intelligence – A European approach to excellence and trust (the “White Paper”).  (See our previous blog here for a summary of all four of the main papers published by the Commission.)  The White Paper recognizes the opportunities AI presents to Europe’s digital economy, and presents the Commission’s vision for a coordinated approach to promoting the uptake of AI in the EU and addressing the risks associated with certain uses of AI.  The White Paper is open for public consultation until 19 May 2020.

Continue Reading European Commission’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence (Part 2 of 4)

On January 23, 2020, the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee approved a resolution on artificial intelligence (“AI”) and automated decision-making (“ADM”). The resolution references several major pieces of work carried out by the European Commission on AI and provides a list of existing EU instruments that are relevant to AI and ADM — which together present a potential roadmap of areas of reform.

The resolution was approved in committee by 39 votes in favor, none against and four abstentions. It will next be voted on by the full Parliament in an upcoming plenary session. If adopted, it will be transmitted to the EU Council and the Commission for consideration. The Commission’s Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager is expected to present plans for a European approach to AI in a Commission meeting on February 19, 2020.

Continue Reading European Parliament Committee Approves Resolution on AI for Consumers

On December 12, 2019, the European Parliament endorsed a non-binding resolution on enabling the digital transformation of health and care. The resolution calls on the European Commission to take a number of actions to foster the development of digital health systems in Europe to improve patient care and support research efforts — particularly those using innovative technologies such as AI.

Continue Reading European Parliament Endorses Digital Health Resolution

On December 19, 2019, Advocate General (“AG”) Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe handed down his Opinion in Case C-311/18, Data Protection Commissioner v Facebook Ireland and Maximillian Schrems (“Schrems II”). The AG’s Opinion provides non-binding guidance to the Court of Justice of the EU (“CJEU”) on how to decide the case.

In brief, the AG recommended that the CJEU find that Decision 2010/87 (setting out standard contractual clauses for controller to processor transfers) should not be invalidated. The Opinion also concluded that the Court did not need to rule on the validity of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield to decide Schrems II.

Continue Reading AG Publishes Opinion on the Validity of the EU Standard Contractual Clauses

On 30 May 2019, the United Kingdom’s ICO released a report, “GDPR: One Year On”, discussing the impact of the GDPR and its associated learnings after one year following its implementation (the “Report”), which provides valuable insight into the enforcement practices, EU-wide cooperation, support functions, innovative practices and further growth plans of the ICO. The contents of the Report will likely prove useful in helping to map out the direction the ICO will take during the course of the coming year and beyond.

Continue Reading ICO Publishes Report on Impact of GDPR

On February 12, 2019, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) published two information notes to highlight the impact of a so-called “No-deal Brexit” on data transfers under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), as well as the impact on organizations that have selected the UK Information Commissioner (“ICO”) as their “lead supervisory authority” for

A recent press release from November 16, 2018 revealed that Malta’s Justice Minister introduced the right to be forgotten through a ministerial decree.  Since 2013, 86 out of 131 judgments have either been anonymized or removed from the courts’ public database.  The information came as a surprise to Malta’s legal community, as there had been no public announcement regarding the new right.  The exact date the new right was introduced has not been confirmed.

Continue Reading Right to be forgotten controversially introduced into Maltese law

On November 6, 2018, the French data protection authority (the “CNIL”) published a report that discusses some of the questions raised by the use of blockchain technology and perceived tensions between it and foundational principles found in the General Data Protection Regulation (the “GDPR”).  As we noted in an earlier blog post on this topic, some pundits have claimed that certain features of blockchain technology, such as its reliance upon a de-centralised network and an immutable ledger, pose GDPR compliance challenges.  The CNIL has attempted to address some of these concerns, at least in a tentative manner, and further guidance from EU privacy regulators can be expected in due course.

De-centralised network

The CNIL acknowledges that EU data protection principles have been designed “in a world in which data management is centralised,” and where there is a clear controller of the data (“data controller”) and defined third parties who merely process the data (“data processors”).  Applying these concepts to a de-centralised network such as blockchain, where there are a multitude of actors, leads to a “more complex definition of their role.”  In brief, EU data privacy rules are the square peg to blockchain’s round hole.

Notwithstanding this, the CNIL considers that participants on a blockchain network, who have the ability to write on the chain and send data to be validated on the network, must be considered data controllers.  This is the case, for instance, where the participant is registering personal data on the blockchain and it is related to a professional or commercial activity.  By contrast, according to the CNIL, the miners, who validate the transactions on the blockchain network, can in certain cases be acting as data processors.  As a consequence, data processing agreements would need to be in place between the data controllers and the data processors on any blockchain network.

The CNIL further considers that where there are multiple participants who decide to carry out processing activities via a blockchain network, they will most likely be considered “joint controllers,” unless they identify and designate their roles and responsibilities in advance.   Individuals who use the blockchain for personal use (i.e., individuals who access the network to buy and sell a virtual currency), however, would not be data controllers as they can rely on the “purely personal or household activity” exception.  
Continue Reading The CNIL Publishes Report On Blockchain and the GDPR