The Article 29 Working Party (‘WP29’) has issued its first guidance on GDPR topics. This guidance (including FAQs) relates to:

  • the right to Data Portability;
  • Data Protection Officers (DPO); and
  • the Lead Supervisory Authority.

Whilst WP29 announced that more opinions and guidance will follow – for example, guidelines on Data Protection Impact Assessments and Certification will be ready in 2017 – the first three guidelines already provide a first glance on WP29’s view on GDPR topics.

Guidelines on the right to Data Portability

In article 20 GDPR, a new right to data portability is created. This right aims at empowering data subjects regarding their own personal data as it facilitates their ability to move, copy or transmit personal data easily from one IT environment to another. The WP29 opinion provides guidance on the way to interpret and implement the right to data portability. It clarifies the conditions under which this new right applies and also provides concrete examples and criteria to explain the circumstances in which this right applies.

From this opinion it appears for example that:

  • this right is only applicable if the legal basis of the data processing is the data subject’s consent or the necessity to perform a contract;
  • this right is limited to personal data provided by the data subject (including personal data that relate to the data subject activity or result from the observation of an individual’s behaviour but not subsequent analysis of that behaviour);
  • data controllers must inform the data subjects regarding the availability of the new right to portability (e.g. WP29 recommends that data controllers always include information about the right to data portability before any account closure);
  • data controllers are encouraged to ensure the interoperability of the data format provided in the exercise of a data portability request.

The WP29 Guidelines on Data Portability can be found here.

Guidelines on Data Protection Officers

Under the GDPR, it is mandatory for certain controllers and processors to designate a DPO. From the WP29 guidelines it becomes clear that DPOs are not personally responsible in case of non-compliance with the GDPR.

WP29 also provides some further details and concrete examples on when a DPO must be appointed. For example it states that ‘core activities of the controller or processor’ (which triggers the appointment of a DPO as set out in Article 37 GDPR) refers to the key operations necessary to achieve the controller’s or processor’s goals, which can also be part of other activities (e.g. a hospital processing patient data).

Article 37 GDPR doesn’t require that the DPO is someone working within the controller or processor, this can also be a third party. However, WP29 does state that the ‘personal availability of a DPO (whether physically on the same premises as employees, via a hotline or other secure means of communication) is essential’, such in order to ensure that data subjects will be able to contact the DPO.

WP29 states that the DPO should be involved in all issues relating to the protection of personal data, such from the earliest stage possible.

In its guidelines, WP29 further defines the (independent) position and tasks of the DPO.

The WP29 guidelines on the DPO can be found here.

Guidelines on the Lead Supervisory Authority

In its third opinion, WP29 provides guidelines for identifying a controller or processor’s lead supervisory authority. This topic is relevant where a controller or processor is carrying out the cross-border processing of personal data.

In accordance with Article 56 GDPR, WP29 states that identifying the lead supervisory authority depends on determining the location of the controller’s ‘main establishment’ or ‘single establishment’ in the EU. In principle, for the controller this will be the place of its central administration. However, WP29 makes it very clear that there can be situations where more than one lead authority can be identified, i.e. a controller has separate decision making centres, in different countries, for different processing activities. The example given by WP29 relates to a bank, whose banking decisions are made in one jurisdiction where also HQ is based, but whose insurance division is based in another jurisdiction. In that case, there are two supervisory authorities.

In its guidelines, WP29 provides further criteria on how to identify the main establishment in cases where it is not the place of central administration in the EU.

Controllers without any establishment in the EU must deal with local supervisory authorities in every Member State they are active in, through their local representative.

The WP29 Guidelines on the Lead Supervisory Authority can be found here.