U.K. Home Office is sorry for data breach

A data breach has taken place in the system that allows EU citizens in the UK before Brexit to apply for settled status in order to continue to live and work there afterwards. Details of hundreds of EU citizens requesting their stay in the country have been accidentally disclosed.

Administrative error has been identified as the reason why 240 personal email addresses were released. The Home Office sent the email on Sunday 7 April asking applicants, who had already struggled with technical problems, to resubmit their information. However, the email addresses were included in carbon copy (CC), instead of a blind carbon copy (BCC), which would have prevented the data from being visible to all recipients. 

The Home Office has apologised to citizens for mistakenly sharing their details plus has asked them to delete the email: “The deletion of the email you received from us on 7 April 2019 would be greatly appreciated.”

“Additional care should be taken when sharing personal information via email. First of all, it is essential ensuring the different recipients are added in BCC instead of CC where relevant, as the latter would reveal the email addresses to all of them and there would be no legitimate basis for that data sharing. Secondly, and according to GDPR data minimisation principle, emails should only include the strictly necessary information, and one should primarily aim at sharing personal data in encrypted files or with any other security measure”. Warns Cristina Contero Almagro, Aphaia Partner.

This is not the first time this has occurred. The government made a similar error with emails sent to 500 members of the Windrush generation.

Do you require assistance with GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 compliance? Aphaia provides both GDPR adaptation consultancy services, including data protection impact assessments, and Data Protection Officer outsourcing.

Will US get stronger privacy laws?

The US is lagging behind when it comes to privacy and the role of big data tech giants.

5G networks, IoT, artificial intelligence and other related technologies are all based on a massive processing and transfer of personal data, between both devices and countries. The latter are deemed as a global scenario for these purposes. However, how could these technologies work without equivalent privacy laws?

GDPR protect people’s data while also allowing companies to thrive and reap the benefits of digitalization. Since the privacy law came into effect in May 2018, both citizens and businesses have felt the positive impact of it. The essence of the law is it give people have more control over their personal data. They have the right to access the data, amend it and decide who and how can use it, among others.

GDPR works because companies have reported that the rollout of the new rules was an opportunity for them to put their house in order when it comes to the data they hold, and increase its security. It also helped them build trust with their customers and offer innovative, more privacy-friendly services.

There have been calls for Washington and the European Union to move closer on privacy issues and become global leaders for free and secure data flows. Beyond the security of data, privacy rules also play a crucial role in debates on the development of artificial intelligence, 5G networks and competition rules.

EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová notes tech companies in the U.S. have already voiced their support for stronger legislation. “It’s time for America to join us, Japan and many others in our work, and be part of setting the global standards on privacy,” Jourová writes. “We should be building a global coalition to tackle the challenge together and promote free trade based on respect of strong privacy rules.”

If the EU and U.S. can find a common ground on how to legislate privacy, an environment where businesses can send data freely and citizens regain trust in the digital world can be realised.

Do you require assistance with GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 compliance? Aphaia provides both GDPR adaptation consultancy services, including data protection impact assessments, and Data Protection Officer outsourcing.

GDPR no deal Brexit practical steps

What should UK business do when it comes to GDPR if no deal Brexit actually takes place?

At first glance, no deal Brexit should not pose a major problem for UK businesses. The UK applies GDPR and will continue to apply it, either directly or based on Data Protection Act 2018. There are no major plans to change the principles or even the rules of GDPR. It could be business as usual. But not quite.

No deal data transfers EU-UK

The transfers of personal data from the EU to the UK will be deemed transfers to a third country. Whereas one could expect the European Commission to issue an adequacy decision for the UK based on the UK’s law being based on EU GDPR, this decision might not be timely. Accordingly, businesses might need to cover such transfers, most likely using Standard Contractual Clauses (SCC). The ICO has decided to help them out with this tool: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-and-brexit/standard-contractual-clauses-for-transfers-from-the-eea-to-the-uk-interactive-tool/y

The good news is that the UK government has stated that, when the UK exits the EU, transfers to the EEA from the UK will not be restricted. There will be transitional provision for a UK adequacy decision to cover these transfers. This means you will able to continue to send personal data from the UK to the EEA without any additional requirements.

Appointing a data protection representative in the EU

Depending on what you do, you may need to appoint a data protection representative in the EU. This will most likely be the case if you are offering goods or services, irrespective of whether a payment of the data subject is required, to data subjects in the EU, for example via a website. Similarly, this will apply to your online or offline monitoring of people’s behaviour as far as this behaviour takes place within the EU. Where you have a subsidiary in the EU, they can act as your representative, and if you have a branch established in the EU, no representative would be required.

Do you require assistance with GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 compliance, including support in relation to Brexit? Aphaia provides both GDPR adaptation consultancy services, including data protection impact assessments, and Data Protection Officer outsourcing.

5G Privacy Risks addressed by the European Commission

Commission Recommendation on Cybersecurity of 5G networks sets an action plan for the Member States. We explore the main sources of 5G privacy risks.

According to Commission Recommendation on Cybersecurity of 5G networks, EU Member States should by the 30th June 2019 carry out a risk assessment of 5G network infrastructure, including identifying the most sensitive elements where security breaches would have a significant negative impact. By the same date, Member States should also review the security requirements and the risk management methods applicable at national level, to take into account cybersecurity threats that may arise from (i) technical factors, such as the specific technical characteristics of 5G networks, and (ii) other factors such as the legal and policy framework to which suppliers of information and communications technologies equipment may be subject in third countries.

A toolbox will further be agreed at the EU level that will include a risk inventory and a set of possible mitigating measures (e.g. third-party certification for hardware, software or services, formal hardware and software tests or conformity checks, processes to ensure access controls exist and are enforced, identifying products, services or suppliers that are considered potentially not secure, etc.).

5G vs 4G privacy risks

Since we all already use 4G and 3G mobile networks, the key practical question is the comparison between 5G vs 4G privacy risks. Are there fundamental differences? Whereas there might be few qualitative differences, one can think of higher density of 5G cells that enable more precise user location information or the impact of potential network management decentralisation e.g. in relation to locally available 5G services. Mobile location issues are addressed by the EU ePrivacy Directive, soon to become ePrivacy Regulation.

According to Vesna Prodnik Pepevnik, CEO of Vafer and 5G mobile network expert, the main challenges will be linked to vertical applications, from autonomous vehicles and healthcare to energy and monitoring systems with various omnipresent sensors. “The more systems and therefore data are processed by 5G networks, the higher the risk.” In her view, the Commission’s 5G security proposals are currently vague, which might even prove to be an obstacle for certain 5G use cases and therefore the EU’s ambitions in relation to 5G.

It, therefore, remains to be seen to what extent will the proposed measures, including the expected toolbox, provide the necessary safeguards for the industry and trust for the end-users, which are both essential for 5G becoming a major driver for IoT applications.

Aphaia provides Data Protection Impact Assessment, including in relation to ePrivacy, and Telecommunications Policy and Regulation services