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In one of the most highly anticipated judgments in recent years, the UK Supreme Court has unanimously rejected a class-action style compensation claim under the Data Protection Act 1998. The Supreme Court decision was handed down as a result of a claim raised against Google LLC (Google) by Richard Lloyd on behalf of four million data subjects.

Continue Reading Lloyd v. Google: Supreme Court rejects compensation claim

On 7 September 2021, the High Court granted a defendant’s application for summary judgment in a claim for compensation brought by three data subjects resulting from a data breach suffered by the defendant, on the basis that the breach was ‘trivial’ (here).

The case

The case related to a single email (with attachments) sent by the defendant, a firm of solicitors. The defendant, who represents a school to whom the claimants, a set of parents, owed outstanding school fees, had been instructed to write to the claimants with a demand for payment. The email consisted of a letter and a copy of the statement of account.

Due to one letter difference in one of the email addresses, the correspondence was sent to an unintended recipient. The unintended recipient responded promptly, indicating that they thought the email was not intended for them. The defendant then responded promptly, asking the unintended recipient to delete the email, which they agreed to do. The recipient was unknown to the claimants personally.

The email contained the claimants’ names, address and the amount of school fees owed, as well as reference to proposed legal action, but it did not contain any financial information in the form of bank or card details, or information about the income or financial position of the claimants.

The claim brought by the claimants was for, amongst other things, compensation for non-material damage (i.e., distress) under article 82 of the General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679) (GDPR) and section 169 of the Data Protection Act 2018. This was based on (i) the claimants having suffered “lost sleep”, (ii) the breach having “made them feel ill” and (iii) extensive time having been spent by the claimants dealing with the issue.

Continue Reading ‘Trivial’ data breach claim dismissed by High Court

In our previous post here we discussed the ICO’s announcement that it is working on new Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) to facilitate transfers of personal data outside the UK. The new UK SCCs will be known as the UK’s International Data Transfer Agreement (IDTA).

The ICO has now launched the public consultation on its IDTA and accompanying guidance (available here). The consultation is open for feedback until 5pm on 7 October 2021.

Purpose of the IDTA

The IDTA will replace the current UK SCCs. The ICO has already made it clear that any transfers to third countries will need to take into account the Schrems II decision and apply supplementary measures, where required. The IDTA is a contract which organisations will be able to use when making a ‘restricted transfer’. The ICO is also consulting on how to define a ‘restricted transfer’ in light of the UK GDPR. In particular, the ICO is consulting on whether to keep its current guidance that says a restricted transfer only takes place where the importer’s processing of the personal data is not subject to UK GDPR. Recognising the complexity of international transfers for businesses, the ICO Executive Director of Regulatory Strategy, Steve Wood, has said that the new guidance is designed to be accessible and to support the full range of organisations, from SMEs to multi-national companies.

Continue Reading The UK’s ICO launches public consultation on new Standard Contractual Clauses

On the 28th June 2021, the European Commission (Commission) adopted two adequacy decisions for the UK; one covering the GDPR and the other the Law Enforcement Directive (LED). Such decisions demonstrate that the Commission believes the UK ensures an ‘essentially equivalent’ level of protection to that within the EU. The implication of these decisions is that personal data can now flow freely from the EU to the UK, effective immediately.

Background

On the 19th February, the Commission published two draft adequacy decisions and launched the procedure for their adoption, which we previously wrote about here. Since then, the Commission has carefully assessed the UK’s laws and practices on personal data protection, including access to data by public authorities in the UK. The European Data Protection Board gave its opinion on the draft decisions in support of the Commission’s findings, which we also blogged about here, before finally receiving the ‘green light’ from the EU Member states’ representatives.

The Commission’s 93-page GDPR decision assesses the legal framework for the UK in detail even referencing laws such as the Magna Carta and Bill of Rights, and states ‘As the UK GDPR is based on EU legislation, the data protection rules in the United Kingdom in many aspects closely mirror the corresponding rules applicable within the European Union.’ They conclude  that ‘the Commission considers that the UK GDPR and the DPA 2018 ensure a level of protection for personal data transferred from the European Union that is essentially equivalent to the one guaranteed by Regulation (EU) 2016/679.’

Continue Reading UK adequacy decision for European data transfers

The UK’s data protection authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), is calling for views on the first chapter of its anonymisation, pseudonymisation and privacy enhancing technologies guidance, available in draft here.

The guidance will help organisations to identify the issues they need to consider in order to use anonymisation techniques effectively. The guidance will sit alongside the ICO’s data sharing code of practice, which provides guidance on how to lawfully share personal data, and offers organisations an alternative way of using or sharing data through anonymisation.

The first chapter introduces and defines anonymisation and pseudonymisation, and places the concepts within the framework of data protection law in the UK.
Continue Reading The ICO publishes first chapter of its new draft guidance on anonymisation, pseudonymisation and privacy enhancing technologies

Earlier this year, following its public consultation, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) approved its guidelines on the processing of personal data in the context of connected vehicles and mobility related applications (here).

Why are these guidelines needed?

In the guidelines, the EDPB notes that “vehicles are becoming massive data hubs” and “connected vehicles are generating increasing amounts of data, most of which can be considered personal data since they will relate to drivers or passengers”. Interestingly, the EDPB is also of the opinion that “[e]ven if the data collected by a connected car are not directly linked to a name, but to technical aspects and features of the vehicle, it will concern the driver or the passengers of the car.” To illustrate this latter point, the EDPB lists the following types of data that would fall within this category: speed, distance travelled, engine coolant temperature, engine RPM and tyre pressure. This is a broad interpretation of what constitutes ‘personal data’ under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Some of the risks of processing personal data in the context of connected vehicles include:

  1. Not adequately informing all data subjects that their personal data is being processed. More often, it is only the driver or owner who is provided with the required transparency information;
  2. Ensuring that a data subject’s consent qualifies as valid consent under the GDPR – consent needs to be considered in the context of personal data processing under the GDPR and in relation to the ePrivacy Regulations as it is likely that information will be stored or accessed in terminal equipment;
  3. Legitimately handling any additional processing of personal data not contemplated by the initial collection e.g. for the purposes of law enforcement;
  4. Collecting excessive amounts of personal data due to the vehicle manufacturer’s desire to use such data to develop new functionality; and
  5. The increased security risks due to the number of different types of technology used in connected vehicles (e.g. wi-fi, USB, RFID).


Continue Reading Processing personal data in the context of connected vehicles

On April 21, 2021, a draft proposed European regulation on artificial intelligence (AI) (Regulation) was released following the European Commission’s white paper “On Artificial Intelligence – A European approach to excellence and trust”, published in February 2020. The regulation shows that the European Union is seeking to establish a legal framework for AI by laying

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) released a document earlier this year in response to a request by the European Commission for clarifications on the application of the GDPR in the area of scientific health research, which you can read here. However, it’s important to note that the EDPB are currently preparing guidelines on the processing of personal data for scientific research purposes, which are set to be released later this year, which will include further elaborations.

Legal basis for processing of health-related data for scientific research purposes

The European Commission posed a question to the EDPB concerning the appropriate legal bases to rely on when personal data is processed for scientific research purposes. The European Commission was particularly interested in understanding two main issues: the interaction of the GDPR legal bases with the requirement to obtain consent for clinical trials, and whether, given the requirement for certain legal basis to have a foundation in Member State or EU law, whether multiple legal bases could be relied upon by one controller for a single research project conducted across several Member States.

The EDPB’s response states that ethical standards which require informed consent for participation in scientific research can and must be differentiated from explicit consent for processing special categories of personal data. It clarifies that they are different concepts and that consent to conduct the clinical trial is not the same (and should not be held to the same standard) as consent for processing special categories of personal data.

Moreover, with regards to legal bases for scientific research, the EDPB noted that when conducting a scientific research project in multiple Member States, they endorsed the use of the same legal basis across all Member States for processing personal data (including special category personal data) associated with the project. But they recognised that, due to the requirement for an underlying Member State or EU law in relation to some of the legal bases (e.g. legal obligation (art.6(1)(c)), reasons of public interest in the area of public health (art.9(2)(i)) and scientific research (art.9(2)(j)), this may not always be possible and a heterogeneous legal bases may be more appropriate.
Continue Reading EDPB clarifies the application of the GDPR for scientific research

On the 14th of April 2021, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) adopted two opinions on the European Commission’s draft adequacy decision for the transfers of personal data from the EU to the UK.

The EDPB assessed the alignment of the UK Data Protection Act to the GDPR and to the Law Enforcement Directive, and noted ‘strong alignment’ on key areas between the EU and UK data protection regimes such as lawful and fair processing for legitimate purposes, purpose limitation, data quality and proportionality, data retention, transparency and special categories of data, to name a few.

Continue Reading European Data Protection Board opines on UK draft adequacy decision

On 30 March 2021, the European Commission announced, in a joint statement with South Korea’s data protection authority, the Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC), the “successful conclusion” of the adequacy talks between the EU and South Korea. Such adequacy decision will enable the free flow of personal data from the EU to South Korea, covering