Tag: GDPR

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UK consults on new data protection regime
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GDPR: Irish supervisory authority fines WhatsApp 225 million
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UK unveils plan to diverge from GDPR
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Reminder for One-Month Deadline to Implement New SCCs in New Contracts
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Australian Privacy Act Under Review
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ICO issues record £20 million fine to British Airways
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EU Court of Justice Invalidates Privacy Shield
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easyJet hack: Nine million customer records stolen in “highly sophisticated” cyberattack
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Post-Brexit data protection – where are we now?
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Lead the Way: Liechtenstein and Bavarian Data Protection Authorities Publish Guidance on Data Access and Security

UK consults on new data protection regime

By Norin McFadden and Claude-Étienne Armingaud

The UK government has unveiled its much-trailed plans to reform its data protection laws, outlined in a consultation document which is open for public comment until 19 November 2021.

Since Brexit was finalised at the start of 2021, the United Kingdom has retained much of the EU General Data Protection Regulation. The government’s plans, if implemented, would see the UK move away from the EU’s approach in several key ways, which may lead to trouble for the continuation of the adequacy decision granted by the EU in June. If terminated, the adequacy decision, currently permitting free flows of personal data between the EU and the UK, could cause increased costs and bureaucracy for businesses on both sides of the Channel to continue their data transfers. 

Some of the changes to the UK GDPR proposed in the consultation document are:

  • Making the legitimate interests lawful basis easier to use, by publishing a limited, exhaustive list of legitimate interests that organisations can use without having to complete a balancing test.
  • Removal of the right to human review of decisions made on the basis of solely automated data processing.
  • Introducing a fee for responding to subject access requests and allowing organisations to refuse to comply with requests at a lower threshold than “manifestly unfounded”, as allowed in the current legislation.

The proposals also introduce potential changes to the UK’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, including:

  • Increasing the current maximum penalty of £500,000 for breaches of the direct marketing regulations to the higher of 4% of global turnover or £17.5 million, thereby matching the maximum penalty under UK GDPR.
  • Removing the requirement for websites to obtain consent before serving some analytics cookies.
  • Extending the “soft opt in” for direct marketing to organisations other than businesses, such as charities and political parties.

GDPR: Irish supervisory authority fines WhatsApp 225 million

By Claude-Etienne Armingaud, Camille Scarparo and Léa Fertani.

Further to investigations initiated by the Data Protection Commission (or DPC, the Irish supervisory authority) in 2018, Whatsapp Ireland Limited has received a EUR 225 million fine on 2 September 2021. The company infringed multiple GDPR provisions including in relation with the information provided to data subjects which breached the obligation to ensure transparency of processing (Articles 13 and 14 GDPR).

Following GDPR’s one-stop-shop mechanism and as WhatsApp operates cross-border flows of personal data, the DPC had initially been designated as lead supervisory authority (‘LSA’). Article 60 GDPR requires the LSA to submit a draft decision to its impacted counterparts across the European Union (the ‘Concerned Supervisory Authorities’). Such draft has been submitted in December 2020 and the Hungarian, Portuguese, Italian, French, Dutch, Polish, German (local and federal) Concerned Supervisory Authorities unanimously raised objections to the DPC in January 2021. The objections mostly addressed the lax approach by the DPC in the assessment of WhatsApp’s breach of GDPR as well as the amount of the initially contemplated fine in view of the dozens of millions of individuals affected by such breach across the European Union.

This resulted in a non-consensual situation, escalading to the dispute resolution process under Article 65 GDPR conducted by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB). The binding decision, adopted on 28 July 2021 and subsequently notified to the DPC, required the Irish supervisory authority to reassess and increase the fine, thus leading to the second-highest fine under GDPR since its entry into force in 2018.

UK unveils plan to diverge from GDPR

By Norin McFadden and Claude-Étienne Armingaud

The UK government has announced that it intends to consult on a new, post-Brexit data protection regime, potentially moving away from the UK General Data Protection Regulation that currently underpins the UK’s data protection legislation. The Digital Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said, “It means reforming our own data laws so that they’re based on common sense, not box-ticking.

A public consultation on the new legislation will follow, but it is clear that the United Kingdom must be careful about any changes it makes to its data regime in order to avoid disrupting the EU-UK adequacy decision with EU GDPR awarded just two months ago. The adequacy decision allows personal data from the European Union to flow freely to the United Kingdom (and vice versa), without businesses needing to put any additional paperwork in place. In granting the adequacy decision, the European Union placed particular emphasis on the fact that the United Kingdom was continuing to base its data protection laws on the same EU GDPR rules that had applied when it was a member of the European Union. A European Commission spokesperson commented that the EU will be closely monitoring any developments in UK data laws and noted that: “In case of problematic developments that negatively affect the level of protection found adequate, the adequacy decision can be suspended, terminated or amended, at any time by the Commission.

It will be interesting to see how far the United Kingdom diverges, particularly as the current trend is that other countries seem to be keen to state that their data protection laws closely follow the EU GDPR.

The UK government also announced that its preferred candidate to be the next Information Commissioner, head of the UK data protection regulator, will be John Edwards, currently in charge of New Zealand’s data regulator, a country that also maintains an EU adequacy decision.

Reminder for One-Month Deadline to Implement New SCCs in New Contracts

By Jake Bernstein and Jane Petoskey

In early June 2021, the European Commission published a new set of standard contractual clauses (SCCs) effective June 27, 2021 for cross-border data transfers and between controllers and processors.  The new SCCs cover changes in data protection laws, including the invalidation of the EU-US Privacy Shield and the fallout from the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) Schrems II opinion (regarding US intelligence laws). The new cross-border data transfer SCCs also use a modular approach to allow for more accurate identification of roles and responsibilities of the contracting parties.  In terms of timing, organizations may use the old SCCs in new contracts until September 27, 2021, and contracts existing before September 27, 2021 must change to the new SCCs by December 27, 2022. For additional information on the SCCs, read our K&L Gates EU Data Protection Alert here.

Please do not hesitate to contact the K&L Gates LLP Cybersecurity and Privacy team of attorneys if you need assistance updating new or existing contracts with the new SCCs by the above deadlines.

Australian Privacy Act Under Review

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham and Keely O’Dowd

In December 2019, the Australian Government announced it would conduct a review of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

A year has almost passed and finally the Australian Government has publicly released details about the review. On 30 October 2020, the Australian Government released the Terms of Reference of the review. In particular, the review will cover:

  • The scope and application of the Privacy Act
  • Whether the Privacy Act effectively protects personal information and provides a practical and proportionate framework for promoting good privacy practices
  • Whether individuals should have direct rights of action to enforce privacy obligations under the Privacy Act
  • Whether a statutory tort for serious invasions of privacy should be introduced into Australian law
  • The impact of the notifiable data breach scheme and its effectiveness in meeting its objectives
  • The effectiveness of enforcement powers and mechanisms under the Privacy Act and how they interact with other Commonwealth regulatory frameworks
  • The desirability and feasibility of an independent certification scheme to monitor and demonstrate compliance with Australian privacy laws.
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ICO issues record £20 million fine to British Airways

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Gill

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined British Airways £20 million, the ICO’s largest fine to date, for failing to protect the personal and financial details of more than 400,000 of its customers.

In a statement published online on 16 October 2020, the ICO stated that its investigation had found that British Airways was “processing a significant amount of personal data without adequate security measures in place”. This failure is said to have breached data protection laws and, subsequently, the airline was the subject of a cyberattack in 2018, which was not detected for more than two months.

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EU Court of Justice Invalidates Privacy Shield

By Cameron Abbott, Claude Etienne-Armingaud, Rob Pulham, Michelle Aggromito and Keely O’Dowd

On the morning of 16 July 2020, in a significant decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the Privacy Shield was held to be invalid.

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easyJet hack: Nine million customer records stolen in “highly sophisticated” cyberattack

By Cameron Abbott, Warwick Andersen, Rob Pulham, Michelle Aggromito and Rebecca Gill

It has been reported that hackers have accessed and stolen details of about 9 million customers of British airline easyJet. Approximately 2,208 easyJet customers have also had their credit card details accessed and stolen.

easyJet reported that it became aware of this “highly sophisticated” cyberattack in late January this year. After an investigation, the airline recently disclosed that the details accessed and stolen by the hackers included email addresses, travel information, and credit card data including CVV numbers.

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Post-Brexit data protection – where are we now?

By Cameron Abbott and Michelle Aggromito

After years of political squabble and delays, Brexit day finally arrived on 31 January 2020. But what does it mean when we talk about the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and how will data protection regulation and compliance change?

There will be little change during the transition (also known as “implementation”) period that is expected to end on 31 December 2020. During this period, EU law will continue to apply in the UK, including the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), after which the GDPR will be converted into UK law.

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Lead the Way: Liechtenstein and Bavarian Data Protection Authorities Publish Guidance on Data Access and Security

By Cameron Abbott and Max Evans

Drawing on the requirements imposed in respect of privacy and data protection by the General Data Protection Regulation, Liechtenstein and Bavaria have published some useful guidance on several key elements of the relevant regulation.

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