The authority will focus on on-line services, on-line payment, social media and data breach reporting by electronic communication service providers

The French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) has announced its 2014 inspection targets, with the goal of reaching 550 inspections for the year. Last year, the CNIL carried out 414 inspections.

Capitalizing on a March 2014 law that authorizes the CNIL to conduct remote, on-line inspections (see our blog post here), the CNIL has announced that it intends to conduct 200 on-line inspections in 2014. The remaining 350 inspections will be on-site.

The specific priority areas for 2014 include:

  • Personal data processing by online social networks. Of particular interest to the CNIL is the significant amount of personal data collected on social networks, including sensitive personal data such as sexual orientation, ethnic origin and religious belief.
  • Online payment processing, including anti-fraud measures and banking data retention. This is a significant source of complaints to the CNIL, and the inspections will verify compliance with the CNIL’s November 2013 recommendation on the storage of credit card numbers (see our blog post here).
  • Management of personal data breaches by electronic communications service providers. Since 2011, such service providers must report breaches to the CNIL, and in certain circumstances to the individuals concerned.
  • The French national database of household credit repayment defaults. This database is the number one source of complaints in the lending sector.

International Inspection Operations

The CNIL also plans to again participate in Internet Sweep Day, first conducted in May 2013 by 20 data protection authorities to analyze privacy notices of some 2,000 websites worldwide. For 2014, Internet Sweep Day will focus on mobile privacy.

The CNIL will also be involved in the Article 29 Working Party’s review of cookies, which will provide an overview of European practices and harmonize the positions of different data protection authorities.

2013 Inspections

Following the 414 inspections conducted by the CNIL in 2013, the CNIL issued a dozen cease and desist notices and in one instance even referred the case to the French Public Prosecutor. Almost a third of the 2013 inspections were related to video surveillance (134 inspections); the remaining were related to compliance with the French Data Protection Law.

The CNIL’s inspections video surveillance systems highlighted persistent violations of French law regarding the use of such systems, and notably repeated failures to file a prior declaration with the CNIL or to obtain authorization from the Prefect. Other issues encountered by the CNIL relating to video surveillance include insufficient notice to persons filmed, and inadequate security measures.