EDPS reprimands European Parliament for use of Google Analytics

Illegal EU-US data transfers by the European Parliament lead to sanction from EDPS 

 

Due to a complaint made approximately one year prior, the European Parliament has been sanctioned by the EDPS over illegal EU-US data transfers, among other violations. On a COVID-19 testing site, the use of Google Analytics and Stripe (both US companies) by the European Parliament was a violation of the Court of Justice’s (CJEU) “Schrems II” ruling on EU-US data transfers. In the complaint, filed in January 2021 by noyb, several issues were raised, including deceptive cookie banners, vague and unclear data protection notices, and of course.  the illegal transfer of data to the US. The European Parliament did not incur a fine, but was reprimanded and ordered to come into compliance and address its data protection notice and other transparency issues within a month. 

 

Personal data transferred from the EU to the US is subject to very strict conditions, and must ensure an adequate level of protection.

 

Since the Schrems II ruling, Data transfers to the US have, under much scrutiny. This is because personal data transferred from the EU to the US in most cases do not ensure adequate protection for the data. The COVID-19 testing website provided by the European Parliament was no different. According to the EDPS, “the Parliament provided no documentation, evidence or other information regarding the contractual, technical or organisational measures in place to ensure an essentially equivalent level of protection to the personal data transferred to the US in the context of the use of cookies on the website.” The data stored included health data, for example symptoms and results of a COVID-19 test. This is considered special category personal data, and therefore particularly sensitive. 

 

The EDPS found the European Parliament to be in violation of several articles of the GDPR and therefore issued a reprimand.

 

The placement of cookies by a US provider without having appropriate measures in place is a violation of EU privacy law. This leaves the site open to possible surveillance by US bodies. The complaint from noyb also highlighted the fact that the site’s cookie banners were unclear and deceptive. The banner did not list all the cookies, and there were also differences between the language versions. As a result users were unable to give valid consent. The European Parliament removed all cookies from the website during the investigation. 

 

There were also several issues of transparency noted in the complaint filed by noyb. It stated that the privacy policy was not clear and transparent and referred to a wrong legal basis. The privacy policy was also changed during the course of the investigation, however the changes made may have worsened the situation. The EDPS concluded that the European Parliament was violating the obligation of transparency under the GDPR. In addition it was found that the Parliament did not adequately reply to the access request of the complainants. The EDPS found the European Parliament To be in violation of several articles of the GDPR, and therefore issued a reprimand in accordance with article 58(2)(b) of the Regulation.

Does your company have all of the mandated safeguards in place to ensure the safety of the personal data to collect or process? Aphaia can help. Aphaia also provides both GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 consultancy services, including data protection impact assessments, and Data Protection Officer outsourcing. We can help your company get on track towards full compliance. Contact us today.

Employee right of access: how does it work?

The CNIL of France has released an article explaining the employee right of access under the EU GDPR.

 

Article 15 of the GDPR gives individuals the right to request a copy of any of their personal data from a data controller. This also applies when the data controller is the individual’s employer. CNIL has recently outlined in this article, how employers should go about fulfilling requests from current and past employees for their personal data. The organization must be sure of the identity of the applicant. In cases where there is reasonable doubt about the identity of the person requesting the information, the organisation may request proof of identity. This is not necessary in cases where the employee is requesting this information via their professional email, or the company’s intranet. Similarly, the identity can be proven by providing a current or former professional identifier.

 

Employees should receive their data, and have the right to have this data corrected or deleted free of charge in most cases.

 

Employees or former employees may request a copy of all the personal data that their employer holds concerning them and must receive this information in an understandable format, making it easy for them to check the accuracy of the information therein. The individual is also entitled to information like the purpose of the use of the data, the categories of data processed, the other organizations which may have obtained the communications data, etc. They may also request that the data be corrected or erased. These requests should be handled free of charge, however in the event that they are unfounded or excessive, for example where additional copies are requested, there may be reasonable costs related to fulfilling that request. This right of access relates to personal data and not to documents, however the organization is not prohibited from releasing documents rather than just the data, if doing so it would be more practical.

 

Employers must protect the rights of third parties when it comes to fulfilling requests for copies of professional emails.

 

Employees may request access to professional emails where they were either the sender or receiver, or where they were mentioned in the emails. In cases where the employee was the sender or receiver, it is assumed that the individual has had prior knowledge of the information contained in the messages requested. Therefore the fulfillment of those requests are presumed to respect the rights of third parties. However, in cases where the applicant is mentioned in the content of these emails, it is important that the employer protects the rights and identities of any third parties. It is suggested that the employer first makes an attempt to either delete, anonymize or pseudonymize the data. If this is insufficient it would be necessary for the employer to refuse the request for access, and provide reasons justifying the refusal to the applicant.

Does your company have all of the mandated safeguards in place to ensure the safety of the personal data to collect or process? Aphaia can help. Aphaia also provides both GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 consultancy services, including data protection impact assessments, and Data Protection Officer outsourcing. We can help your company get on track towards full compliance. Contact us today.

International Data Protection Committee

International Data Protection Committee established by Danish DPA

An international data protection committee has been established by the Danish DPA to protect Danish interests regarding international data protection.

 

The Danish DPA has established a special committee with the aim of giving the Authority’s stakeholders more and better insight into the international data protection work done by the Data Inspectorate. It will also serve the purpose of giving them an opportunity to contribute to this work, strengthening the safeguarding of Danish interests on an international level. This new special committee differs from the Danish DPA’s  contact committee in that its efforts will be geared specifically towards the Authority’s work regarding international affairs.

 

The International Data Protection Committee is aimed at fostering collaboration to strengthen the protection of Danish interests.

 

The GDPR is directed at pursuing a more formalized cooperation between various European Data Protection Authorities. This is paramount in ensuring harmonization in the interpretation of data protection rules throughout the EU. The Danish DPA, in an effort to protect and further Danish interests, is ensuring that European regulation is beneficial within the Danish context. This Special Committee on International Data Protection Cooperation was established to give the Danish Data Protection Authority’s stakeholders, and the Danish Data Protection Agency, a platform on which to work together and collaborate and strengthen the protection of Danish interests. 

 

This special committee will hold quarterly meetings to inform stakeholders about ongoing international cases as well as any current issues in the international arena. Committee members will have the opportunity to provide input at these meetings, as well as insight on their specific needs. The first of these meetings is scheduled to take place on January 20.

 

Does your company have all of the mandated safeguards in place to ensure the safety of the personal data to collect or process? Aphaia can help. Aphaia also provides both GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 consultancy services, including data protection impact assessments, and Data Protection Officer outsourcing. We can help your company get on track towards full compliance. Contact us today

 

CLEARVIEW AI ordered to delete photos by French DPA; CNIL

CLEARVIEW AI, ordered to delete photos by the French DPA after investigation revealed unlawful collection and processing of photos from the Internet.

 

CLEARVIEW AI, and the facial recognition software the company produces were first reported to the CNIL in May of 2020. This led to an investigation which uncovered two GDPR infractions; the unlawful processing of personal data, and the lack of sufficient consideration of the rights of the individual, particularly their right to request access to their data. As a result, the CNIL has ordered CLEARVIEW AI to cease the collection and use of data from people on French territory without legal basis, and to facilitate access to data by data subjects. In addition CLEARVIEW AI was ordered to comply with requests to have data erased. The CNIL has given the company two months to comply with these requests sent in their formal notice.

 

CLEARVIEW AI developed a facial recognition system which uses a database of photos which the company had neither consent, nor legal basis to process.

 

CLEARVIEW AI developed a facial recognition software of which the database is built on photographs and videos extracted from the internet’s publicly accessible media. The company does not receive consent of the data subjects whose photos are being used to feed its software. There is also no legal basis for the processing of this personal data. As a result the company was found to be in breach of Article 6 of the GDPR. The collection of data of tens of millions of individuals in France territory without legitimate interest is also considered particularly intrusive.

 

“It should be noted that the fact that personal data is publicly available does not mean that it can be freely used. The GDPR applies to publicly available personal data as well, therefore a basis of Article 6 is required in order to process it lawfully. If this basis is legitimate interest, a Legitimate Interest Assessment needs to be performed” comments Cristina Contero Almagro, Partner in Aphaia

CNIL also found CLEARVIEW AI in breach of articles 12, 15 and 17 of the GDPR as individuals found difficulty in exercising their rights with the company.

 

The many complaints received by the CNIL pointed to an issue with individuals’ rights being infringed upon by the CLEARVIEW AI, particularly the right of access for data subjects and the right to erasure. The company was found to have been limiting the exercise of the right of access to only data collected during the 12 month period preceding the request. In addition individuals were only being allowed to exercise this ride twice a year by CLEARVIEW AI, and without justification. The company was found to only respond to certain requests after an excessive number of requests that come from the same person. When requests were made to exercise the right to erasure, it was reported that the company either did not respond at all, or provided incomplete responses. CLEARVIEW AI has since been put on notice by CNIL to come into compliance, cease unlawful processing and delete all data processed unlawfully within a two month period.

 

 

 

Does your company have all of the mandated safeguards in place to ensure the safety of the personal data to collect or process? Aphaia can help. Aphaia also provides both GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 consultancy services, including data protection impact assessmentsAI Ethics Assessments and Data Protection Officer outsourcing. We can help your company get on track towards full compliance. Contact us today.