personal data

On May 4, 2022, the General Court of the EU handed down a decision that helps clarify the standard of proof required to demonstrate that information that does not identify someone by name constitutes “personal data” under EU data protection law.  The court also clarifies that the burden of proof falls on the entity alleging that the information is personal data.

The case concerns an online press release published by the European Anti-Fraud Office’s (“OLAF”) announcing that it had determined that a Greek scientist had committed fraud using EU funds intended to finance a research project.  Among other things, the scientist alleged that the press release contained “personal data” about her and, therefore, OLAF breached data protection law because it did not have a legal basis to disseminate her “personal data”.  She also alleged that OLAF’s press release had enabled two journalists to identify her and write each an article mentioning her by name.

The court disagreed with the position taken by the scientist, holding that the she was not able to demonstrate that the published information enabled her identification and, therefore, it had not demonstrated that the information was “personal data”.  It also decided that OLAF was not responsible for the news articles that identified the scientist by name.Continue Reading General Court of the EU Finds that Individual was Unable to Prove that Information Published Online Constitutes “Personal Data”

On February 23, 2022, the European Commission published the draft EU Regulation on harmonized rules on fair access to and use of data, also referred to as the “Data Act” (available here).  The Data Act is just the latest EU legislative initiative, sitting alongside the draft Data Governance Act, Digital Services Act, and Digital Markets Act, motivated by the EU’s vision to create a single market for data and to facilitate greater access to data.

Among other things, the proposed Regulation:

  • grants “users” of connected “products” and “related services” – meaning a digital service incorporated in or inter-connected with a product in such a way that its absence would prevent the product from performing one of its functions – offered in the EU rights to access and port to third parties the data generated through their use of these products and services (including both personal and non-personal data);
  • requires manufacturers of these products and services to facilitate the exercise of these rights, including by designing them in such a way that any users – which may be natural and legal persons – can access the data they generate;
  • requires parties with the right, obligation or ability to make available certain data (including through the Data Act itself) – so-called ”data holders” – to make available to users the data that the users themselves generate, upon request and “without undue delay, free of charge, and where applicable, continuously and in real-time”;
  • requires data holders to enter into a contract with other third-party “data recipients” on data sharing terms that are fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory; relatedly, any compensation agreed between the parties must be “reasonable” and the basis for calculating the compensation transparent, with special rules set out for micro, small or medium-sized data recipients to facilitate their access to the data at reduced cost;
  • authorizes public sector bodies and Union institutions, agencies or bodies to request access to the data in “exceptional need” situations;
  • requires certain digital service providers, such as cloud and edge service providers, to implement safeguards that protect non-personal data from being accessed outside the EU where this would create a conflict with EU or Member State law;
  • requires such data processing service providers to make it easy for the customers of such services to switch or port their data to third-party services; and
  • imposes interoperability requirements on operators of “data spaces”.

As a next step, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament will analyze the draft Regulation, propose amendments and strive to reach a compromise text that both institutions can agree upon.  Below, we discuss the key provisions of the Data Act in more detail.
Continue Reading European Commission Publishes Draft Data Act

On May 27, 2019, the Thai government published the Personal Data Protection Act B.E. 2562 (2019) (the “PDPA”) in its official gazette, meaning the law now takes effect and companies have a 1-year period to bring their practices into compliance by May 27, 2020.

Notably, the PDPA adopts a broad definition of “personal data” (essentially,

On July 17, 2018, the Portuguese Supervisory Authority (“CNPD”) imposed a fine of 400.000 € on a hospital for infringement of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).  The decision has not been made public.  Earlier this week, the hospital publicly announced that it will contest the fine.

According to press reports, the CNPD

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

In February 2015, the Brazilian government issued a draft of Brazil’s first comprehensive privacy law, the Preliminary Draft Bill for the Protection of Personal Data (the “Draft Bill”).  The Draft Bill builds on and codifies certain concepts relating to the treatment of personal data already present in Brazilian constitutional, statutory and case law.

Regulators and courts in the EU are increasingly vigilant in relation to privacy practices and policies of large online companies.  In recent years and months, the pressure increases not only through privacy-specific regulations and enforcement, but also through the application of consumer legislation.  As the below examples from France and Germany show, some courts or regulators assess privacy practices and policies against the rules on unfair or abusive trade practices — in some countries, the legislator is even proposing new laws to that end.  This is a worrying trend, as it could trigger the application of an additional set of rules to privacy policies, and implies that EU consumer protection authorities may acquire competence in relation to online privacy policies, in addition to the EU data protection regulators.

Continue Reading European Consumer Legislation and Online Privacy Policies: Opening Pandora’s Box?

Pursuant to a press release of the German Federal Ministry for Justice and Consumer Protection, the German Government approved a draft law to strengthen the private enforcement of certain data protection law provisions that aim to protect consumers.  In particular, the draft law empowers consumers and other qualified associations to send cease-and-desist letters and to

UPDATED:  This post was first published on December 19, 2014; it is now being updated to reflect President Putin’s signature of the bill discussed below on 31 December, 2014.

In July 2014, Russia enacted Law 242-FZ (the “Localization Law”).  The Localization Law amends the Russian Federal Law on Information, Information Technology and Information Protection, and

In July this year, Russia enacted Law 242-FZ (the “Localization Law”).  The Localization Law amends the Russian Federal Law on Information, Information Technology and Information Protection, and would introduce a new requirement for certain businesses (including in particular those processing data concerning Russian citizens and also maintaining offices in Russia) to ensure that personal data