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Personal data should be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, with regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay.

Adequacy decision

An adequacy decision is a decision adopted by the European Commission on the basis of Article 45 of the GDPR, which establishes that a third country (i.e. a country not bound by the GDPR) or international organisation ensures an adequate level of protection of personal data. Such a decision takes into account the country’s domestic laws, its supervisory authorities, and international commitments it has entered into.

The effect of such a decision is that personal data can flow from the EU Member States and European Economic Area member countries to that third country, without any further requirements. The European Commission publishes a list of its adequacy decisions on its website.


Anonymous information is information thatdoes not relate to an identified or identifiable natural person, or to personal data rendered anonymous in such a manner that the data subject is not, or is no longer, identifiable.

The GDPR does not cover the processing of anonymous information, including for statistical or research purposes (Recital 26, GDPR).

Article 29 Working Party

The Article 29 Working Party is the short name of the Data Protection Working Party established by Article 29 of Directive 95/46/EC. It provided the European Commission with independent advice on data protection matters and helped in the development of a harmonised implementation of data protection rules in the EU Member States.

As of 25 May 2018, the Article 29 Working Party ceased to exist, and was replaced by the EDPB.

Article 93 Committee Procedure

Article 93 of the GDPR calls for the Commission to be assisted by a committee when adopting implementing measures. This is a committee within the meaning of Regulation EU No. 182/2011. It is comprised of representatives from Member States and chaired by the Commission. By way of example, the Article 93 Committee cooperates in the procedure for the adoption of adequacy decisions.

Automated individual decision

An automated individual decision is a decision which significantly affects a person and which is based solely on automated processing of personal data in order to evaluate this person. Such an evaluation may relate to different personal aspects, such as performance at work, creditworthiness, reliability, conduct, etc.

Article 22 of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and Article 24 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 lay down the right for individuals to object to decisions about them that are solely based on automated means, unless certain conditions are fulfilled or appropriate safeguards are put in place.

Balancing test

The balancing test is a tool aimed at balancing the legitimate interests of the controller (or third parties) against the interests or fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject. The outcome of the balancing test largely determines whether may be relied upon as a legal ground for processing. It is worth mentioning already at this stage that this is not a straightforward balancing test which would simply consist of weighing two easily quantifiable and easily comparable ‘weights’ against each other. Rather, carrying out the balancing test may require a complex assessment taking into account a number of factors.

Berlin Group

The International Working Group on Data Protection in Telecommunications (IWGDPT), also known as the Berlin Group, was established in 1983 on the initiative of a number of national data protection authorities aroundthe world. Since then, its secretariat has been provided by the data protection authority of Berlin (Berliner Datenschutz-beauftragter). Membership ofthe Group is not limited to national data protection authorities, but also extends to representatives from the private sector and NGOs.

In recent years, the Berlin Group has focused on data protection and privacy-related issues aroundinformation technology in the wider sense, with a special focus on Internet-related developments.

More information on the Berlin Group is available on its website.

Best Available Techniques

Best Available Techniques refer to the most effective techniques, and/orthose at the most advanced stage in their development, of activities and their methods of operation. It indicates the practical suitability of particular techniques for providing in principle the basis for complying with the EU data protection framework. They are designed to prevent or mitigate risks aroundprivacy and security.

Council Directive 96/61/EC of 24 September 1996 concerning integrated pollution prevention and control provides for the following definitions, which canbe applied by analogy:

  • “techniques” shall include both the technology used and the way in which the system is designed, built, maintained, operated and replaced;
  • “available” techniques shall mean those developed on a scale which allows implementation in the relevant sector, under economically and technically viable conditions, taking into consideration the costs and advantages, whether or not the techniques are used or produced inside the Member State in question, as long as they are reasonably accessible to the operator;
  • “best” shall mean [the] most effective in achieving a high general level of protection.

Binding corporate rules

These are policies for personal dataprotection which are adhered to by a controller or processor, and established on the territory of an EU Member State, for transfers (or a set of transfers) of personal data to a controller or processor in one or more third countries within a group of undertakings, or group of enterprises, engaged in a joint economic activity.

Biometric data

These are personal data resulting from specific technical processing that relate to the physical, physiological or behavioural characteristics of a natural person. They allow or confirm the unique identification of that natural person. Examples include facial images or dactyloscopic(i.e. fingerprint) data.


Biometrics, or biometric systems, are methods for uniquely recognising humans based upon one or more intrinsic physical or behavioural traits.

Thesemethods have been used for a long time. However, the new element which triggers data protection considerations is that a machine can now automatically conduct these methods and possibly recognise humans with measurable accuracy.


CCTV, or“closed circuit television”, is a television system comprised of a camera (or set of cameras) monitoring a specific protected area, with additional equipment used for viewing and/or storing the CCTV footage. The term originates from the fact that, as opposed to broadcast television, CCTV is usually a “closed” rather than an “open” system, with a limited number of viewers.

CCTV has traditionally been used for surveillance in specific locations with increased security needs, such as banks, airports and military installations. In industrial plants, CCTV has been used to observe processes remotely, for example, in hazardous environments. Increasing use of CCTV in public places has caused debate over public surveillance versus privacy.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices ondemand. It is a paradigm shift, following the shift from mainframe to client–server in the early 1980s. Cloud computing describes a new consumption and delivery model for IT services, one based on the Internet. It typically involves the provision of dynamically scalable and often virtualised resources as a service over the Internet. It is a by-product and consequence of the ease-of-access to remote computing sites provided by the Internet.

Consent of the data subject

Any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which they, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to them.


This term means the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data. Where the purposes and means of such processing are determined by European Union or Member State law, the controller or the specific criteria for its nomination may be provided for by European Union or Member State law.

Convention 108

Convention 108 refers to the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, which was adopted by the Council of Europe in 1981. It is the first legally binding international instrument adopted in the field of data protection. It sets out the minimum standards aimed at protecting individuals against abuses which may accompany the collection and processing of personal data. It also seeks to regulate the transborder flow of personal data.To date, 40 European states have ratified the Convention.


Cookies are short text files stored on auser’s device by a website.  Cookies are normally used to provide a more personalised experience and to remember a user’s profile without the need fora specific login. Cookies can also be placed by third parties (such as an advertising network) in end users’ devices and maybe used to track users when they surf across different websites associated to that third party.

Cross-border processing

This can mean either:

  1. the processing of personal data which takes place in the context of the activities of establishments in more than one Member State of a controller or processor in the Union, where the controller or processor is established in more than one Member State; or
  2. the processing of personal data which takes place in the context of the activities of a single establishment of a controller or processor in the Union, but which substantially affects, or is likely to substantially affect, data subjects in more than one Member State.

Data concerning health

This is personal data related to the physical or mental health of a natural person, including the provision of health care services, which reveal information about their health status.

Data minimisation

The principle of data minimisation means that a data controller should limit the collection of personal information to what is directly relevant and necessary to accomplish a specified purpose. They should also retain the data only for as long as is necessary to fulfil that purpose. In other words, data controllers should only collect the personal data they really need, and should only keep it for as long as they need it.

The data minimisation principle is expressed in Article 5(1)(c) of the GDPR and Article 4(1)(c) of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725, which statethat personal data must be “adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed”.

Data mining

Data mining is the process of analysing data from different perspectives and summarising it into useful new information. Data mining software is one of a number of tools for interrogating data. It allows users to analyse data from many different dimensions or angles, categorise it, and summarise the relationships identified. Technically, data mining is the process of finding correlations or patterns among dozens of fields in large relational databases. It is commonly used in a wide range of profiling practices, such as marketing, surveillance, fraud detection and scientific discovery. Obviously, for data mining to be effective, it is necessary to analyse large amounts of previously collected data.

Data protection authority (DPA)

A DPA is an independent body which is in charge of:

  • monitoring the processing of personal data within its jurisdiction (country, region or international organisation);
  • providing advice to the competent bodies with regard to legislative and administrative measures relating to the processing of personal data;
  • hearing complaints lodged by citizens with regard to the protection of their data protection rights.

According to Article 51 of the GDPR, each Member State shall establish in its territory at least one data protection authority, which shall be endowed with investigative powers (e.g. access to data, collection of information, etc.), corrective powers (e.g. the power to order the erasure of data, to impose a fine or a ban on processing), and authorisation or advisory powers (e.g. issuance of opinions, power to accredit certification bodies).

National data protection authorities have been established in all European countries, as well as in many other countries worldwide. At the EU level, the EDPS wasestablished as an independent data protection authority under Article 52 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725.

You can find a list of data protection authorities online.

Data protection by default

By default, companies and organisations should ensure that personal data is processed with the highest privacy protection (e.g. only the data necessary should be processed, short storage period, limited accessibility) so that, by default, personal data isnot accessible to an indefinite number of persons.

Data protection by design

Privacy by design aims at building privacy and data protection ‘up front’, meaning into the design specifications and architecture of information and communication systems and technologies, in order to facilitate compliance with privacy and data protection principles.

Data protection coordinator

In addition to the data protection officer foreseen by Regulation (EU) 2018/1725, some EUinstitutions have appointed a data protectioncoordinator  to coordinate all data protection aspects in the relevant DG, departments or units.

Data protection impact assessment (DPIA)

The data controller shallcarry out an assessment – a DPIA – of the impact of the envisaged processing operations on the protection of personal data, when thetype of processing is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons.This assessment must be done prior to the processing and, in particular if using new technologies, must take into account the nature, scope, context and purposes of the processing.

A single DPIAmay address a set of similar processing operations that present similar high risks, as stated in Article 39 of Regulation 2018/1725.

Data protection officer (DPO)

The GDPR introduced a new agent in the data protection framework: the data protection officer. This should be an expert on data protection law and practices, and be in a position to operate independently within the organisation. The DPO should ensure the internal application of the GDPR,and that the rights and freedoms of data subjects are not likely to be adversely affected by processing operations. The DPO shall keep a register of processing operations performed or controlled by the institution or body.

Data quality

Data quality refers to a set of principles laid down in Article 5 of the GDPR and Article 4 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725, namely:

  • lawfulness, fairness and transparency
  • purpose limitation
  • data minimisation
  • accuracy
  • storage limitation
  • integrity and confidentiality.

Data retention

Data retention refers to all obligations on the part of data controllers to retain personal data for certain purposes.The Data Retention Directive (Directive 2006/24/EC (pdf)) contains an obligation for providers of electronic communications to retain traffic and location data of communications (e.g. through telephone, e-mail, etc.). Retention takes place for the purpose of the investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crime.

See also Council Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA.

Data subject

The data subject is the person whose personal data are collected, held or processed.

Data transfer

Data transfers refers to processing when the recipient is located in a country outside the EU/EEA according to Chapter V of the GDPR, and of Regulation (EU) No 2018/1725.


A natural or legal person engaged in an economic activity, irrespective of its legal form, including partnerships or associations regularly engaged in an economic activity.

European Data Protection Board

The EDPB is an independent European body that contributes to the consistent application of data protection rules throughout the EEA and promotes cooperation between the EEA’s data protection authorities. Based in Brussels, the EDPB is composed of representatives of the national data protection authorities, and the EDPS. It was established by the GDPR and has a secretariat, which is provided by the EDPS. A memorandum of understanding determines the terms of cooperation between the EDPB and the EDPS. Its website can be found at:

European Data Protection Board (EDPB)

The EDPB is an independent European body that contributes to the consistent application of data protection rules throughout the EEA and promotes cooperation between the EEA’s data protection authorities. Based in Brussels, the EDPB is composed of representatives of the national data protection authorities, and the EDPS. It was established by the GDPR and has a secretariat, which is provided by the EDPS. A memorandum of understanding determines the terms of cooperation between the EDPB and the EDPS. Its website can be found at:

European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS)

The EDPS is an independent supervisory authority established in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 2018/1725, on the basis of Article 16 TFEU. Its mission is to ensure that the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals – in particular their privacy – are respected when EU institutions and bodies process personal data.

European Economic Area (EEA)

The EEA links the EU member states and three EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) into an internal market governed by the same basic rules.


Fairness is an overarching principle which requires that personal data shall not be processed in a way that is detrimental, discriminatory, unexpected or misleading to the data subject. Measures and safeguards implementing the principle of fairness also support the rights and freedoms of data subjects, specifically the right to information (transparency), the right to intervene (access, erasure, data portability, rectify) and the right to limit the processing (the right not to be subject to automated individual decision-making and non-discrimination of data subjects in such processes).

Filing system

Any structured set of personal data thatisaccessible according to specific criteria, whether centralised, decentralised or dispersed on a functional or geographical basis.

Genetic data

Personal data relating to the inherited or acquired genetic characteristics of a natural person, which give unique information about the physiology or the health of that natural person and which result, in particular, from an analysis of a biological sample from the natural person in question.

Information society service

A service as defined in point (b) of Article 1(1) of Directive (EU) 2015/1535 of the European Parliament and of the Council (19).

Integrity and confidentiality

The principle of integrity and confidentiality refers to the classical protection goals of IT security, namely confidentiality, integrity and availability.  Resilience can be considered an aspect of availability.  The main focus is to protect assets against risks caused by undesirable events.  In stark contrast to IT security, these assets and risks are not those of the controller (often an organisation), but those of the data subjects.  From this perspective, it is clear why data portability fits withavailability in this principle:  it protects data subjects from losing an asset (represented by the data) when changing controller (mostly the provider).

International Conference

Every year in the European autumn, privacy and data protection authorities from Europe and other parts of the world meet at the International Conference. Unlike the European Conference, this is open toattendance by other interested parties. The International Conference takes stock of new developments and usually adopts resolutions in a closed session for data protection authorities only. It is the biggest data protection event totake place on a regular basis.

International organisation

An organisation and its subordinate bodies governed by public international law, or any other body which is set up by, or on the basis of, an agreement between two or more countries.

Joint controller

Where two or more controllers jointly determine the purposes and means of processing, they are joint controllers. They shall, in a transparent manner, determine their respective responsibilities for compliance with the obligations under theGDPR, in particular withregards to the exercising of the rights of the data subject, and their respective duties to provide the information referred to in Articles 13 and 14. This should be done by means of an arrangement between them unless, and in so far as, the respective responsibilities of the controllers are determined by Union or Member State law to which they are subject. The arrangement may designate a contact point for data subjects.

Joint Supervisory Authorities (JSAs) / Joint Supervisory Bodies (JSBs)

JSAs and JSBs were a model for organising the data protection supervision of several large-scale IT databases operated atthe European level, and for certain agencies in the law-enforcement field. Essentially, they comprised representatives of national DPAs. They existed for, among others, Europol and the Schengen Information System under the Schengen Convention.

Most JSAs and JSBs have been abolished. The remaining ones are the Customs JSA, dealing with parts of the Customs Information System and the Eurojust JSB, which will operate until the new Eurojust Regulation (EU) 2018/1727 becomes applicable. The two levels usually cooperate in Supervision Coordination Groups, the secretariats for which are usually provided by the EDPS.

Large-scale IT systems

Several databases (i.e. information systems) created, or about to be created, by the EU can be considered large by various (sometimes all) measures: the number of people using the system for different purposes;the amount of data collected, stored, accessed and manipulated; thenumber of connections between components, etc. In particular, the EU is creating or updating several large-scale IT systems in the area of border and police control, such asSIS II, VIS and Eurodac.

Lawful processing of personal data

Processing shall be lawful only if, and to the extent that, at least one of the following applies:

  1. the data subject has given consent to the processing of their personal data for one or more specific purposes;
  2. processing is necessary for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is party, or in order to take steps at the request of the data subject prior to entering into a contract;
  3. processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject;
  4. processing is necessary in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject, or of another natural person;
  5. processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest, or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller;
  6. processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller, or by a third party, except where such interests are overridden by the interests or fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject which require protection of personal data, in particular where the data subject is a child.

Legal basis

Processing can only be considered lawful if a legal basis for processing applies. Legal bases are specified by Article 6(1) GDPR. See also: Lawful processing of personal data.

Legitimate interest

Legitimate interest is a legal basis for data processing (Article 6, GDPR). An interest can be considered as legitimate as long as the controller can pursue it in a way that is in accordance with data protection and other laws. In other words, a legitimate interest must be acceptable under the law. The notion of legitimate interest could include a broad range of interests – whether trivial or compelling, straightforward or controversial. Therewill then be a second step: balancing these interests against the interests and fundamental rights of the data subjects. This a more restricted approach and more substantive analysis should be taken.

Main establishment

Main establishment means one of the following:

  • for a controller with establishments in more than one Member State, the place of its central administration in the EU, unless the decisions on the purposes and means of the processing of personal data are taken in another establishment of the controller in the EUand the latter establishment has the power to have such decisions implemented, in which case the establishment having taken such decisions is considered the main establishment;
  • for a processor with establishments in more than one Member State, the place of its central administration in the EU; or, if the processor has no central administration in the EU, the establishment of the processor in the EUwhere the main processing activities (in the context of the activities of an establishment) of the processor take place, to the extent that the processor is subject to specific obligations under the GDPR.

Personal data

Any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’). An identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person.

Personal data breach

A breach of security leading to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to, personal data transmitted, stored or otherwise processed.

Personal data filing system

According to Article 3 (7) of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725, a personal data filing system refers to “any structured set of personal data which are accessible according to specific criteria, whether centralised, decentralised or dispersed on a functional or geographical basis”.The definition is independent of the size of the filing system, which may vary according to the circumstances. In some cases, for instance the case of disciplinary files for a small sized EU-body, the filing system can comprise just a handful of entries.


Privacy is the ability of an individual to be left alone, out of public view, and in control of information about oneself.One can distinguish the ability to prevent intrusion in one’s physical space (physical privacy, for example protection of the private home) and the ability to control the collection and sharing of information about oneself (informational privacy).The concept of privacy therefore overlaps, but does not coincide, with the concept of data protection.

The right to privacy is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 12) as well as in the European Convention of Human Rights (Article 8).

Privacy enhancing technologies(PETs)

PETs refer to a coherent system of ICT measures that protect privacy by eliminating or reducing personal data, or by preventing unnecessary and/or undesired processing of personal data, all without losing the functionality of the information system. PETs can be stand-alone tools requiring positive action by consumers (who must purchase and install them on their computers), or they can be built into the architecture of information systems.


Any operation, or set of operations, which is performed on personal data or on sets of personal data, whether (or not) by automated means. Processing of data includesits collection, recording, organisation, structuring, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, restriction, erasure or destruction.


A natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body that processes personal data on behalf of the controller.

Processor agreement

Transfers of personal data from a data controller to a data processor must be secured by a data processor agreement. It must meet certain minimum requirements, as set forth by Article 28 of the GDPR and Article 29 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725.The contract must stipulate that the data processor shall act only on instructions from the data controller. The data processor must provide sufficient guarantees in respect of the technical security measures and organisational measures governing the processing to be carried out, and must ensure compliance with such measures.


Any form of automated processing of personal data that uses personal data to evaluate certain aspects relating to a natural person.In particular, profiling refers to analysing or predicting aspects concerning anatural person’s performance at work, economic situation, health, personal preferences, interests, reliability, behaviour, location or movements.


The processing of personal data in such a manner that the personal data can no longer be attributed to a specific data subject without the use of additional information. Such additional information must bekept separately and subject to technical and organisational measures to ensure that the personal data are not attributed to an identified or identifiable natural person.

Purpose limitation

Personal data shall be collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes, and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes. Further processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes shall, in accordance with Article 89(1), not be considered to be incompatible with the initial purposes.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

RFID is an automatic identification method that relies on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders.An RFID tag is an object that can be applied to, or incorporated into, a product, an animal or a person for the purpose of identification or remote tracking through radio waves.

The EDPS released an opinion (pdf) on the issue in December 2007, which underlines that RFID systems could play a key role in the development of the European information society, but also that the wide acceptance of RFID technologies should be facilitated by the benefits of consistent data protection safeguards.


A natural or legal person, public authority, agency or another body to which personal data are disclosed, whether a third party or not. Public authorities which may receive personal data in the framework of a particular inquiry in accordance with EUor Member State law arenot regarded as recipients; the processing of data by suchpublic authorities shall be in compliance with the applicable data protection rules according to the purposes of the processing.

Record of processing activities

To demonstrate compliance with Regulation (EU) No 2018/1725, controllers should maintain records of processing activities under their responsibility, and processors should maintain records of categories of processing activities under their responsibility.Unless it is not appropriate (taking into account the size of the EUinstitution or body), EU institutions and bodies shall keep their records of processing activities in a central register. They shall also make the register publicly accessible (according to Article 31 Regulation (EU) No. 2018/1725).

Relevant and reasoned objection

This is an objection to a draft decision on whether there is an infringement of  the GDPR, or whether envisaged action in relation to the controller or processor complies with this Regulation, which clearly demonstrates the significance of the risks posed by the draft decision as regards the fundamental rights and freedoms of data subjects and, where applicable, the free flow of personal data within the EU.


A natural or legal person established in the EUwho, designated by the controller or processor in writing pursuant to Article 27, represents the controller or processor with regard to their respective obligations under the GDPR.

Retention period

Data retention refers to all obligations on the part of controllers to retain personal data for certain purposes.The retention period is how long the data is kept for these purposes.Limits to how long controllerskeep personal data is part of the principle of data minimisation. The ‘rule of thumb’ is “as long as necessary, as short as possible”, but sometimes legal rules impose fixed periods. Data that are no longer retained cannot fall into the wrong hands, nor be abused. Defining and enforcing limited periods for data retention helps to protect the people whose data are processed.

Right not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing

Data subjects have the right not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing (e.g. by an algorithm), including profiling, which produces legal effects concerning them or similarly significantly affects them (Article 22(1), GDPR). A decision may be considered as producing legal effects when the individual’s legal rights or legal status are impacted (e.g. their right to vote). In addition, processing can significantly affect an individual if it influences their personal circumstances, their behaviour or their choices (e.g. automatic processing thatleads to the refusal of an online credit application).

The use of automated processing for decision-making is authorised only in the following cases:

  • the decision based on the algorithm is necessary (i.e. there is no other way to achieve the same goal) to enter into, or to perform, a contract with the individual whose data thecompany/organisation processed via the algorithm (e.g. an online loan application);
  • a particular EU or national law allows the use of algorithms and provides for suitable safeguards to protect the individual’s rights, freedoms and legitimate interests (e.g. tax evasion regulations);
  • the individual has explicitly given theirconsent to a decision based on the algorithm.

Right of access by the data subject

This refers to the right for any data subject to obtain from the controller of a processing operation the confirmation that data related to them are being processed, the purpose(s) for which they are processed, as well as the logic involved in any automated decision process concerning them.This right also allows the data subject to receive communication, in an understandableform, of the data undergoing processing and information regarding the processing.This right can be exercised without constraint, at any time within onemonth  from the receipt of the request, and is free of charge (Article 14 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725).

Right to be informed

Article 12 of the GDPR states that controllers must provide data subjects with information relating to processing aboutthem “in a concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language, in particular for any information addressed specifically to a child.”

The right to be informed is essential because it determines the exercise of other rights. It refers to the information which shall be provided to a data subject, whether or not the data have been obtained from the data subject. The information which must be provided relates to: the identity of the controller;the purpose(s) of the processing;the recipients;and the existence of the right of access to data and the right to rectify the data.

Right to erasure / right to be forgotten

Thisright is explicitly provided for in Article 17 of the GDPR: “Provided that any of the grounds described by letters (a-f) applies, the data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data concerning him or her without undue delay and the controller shall have the obligation to erase personal data without undue delay.”

The Guidelines by the A29 WP[1] clarify that this right implies not only the right for individuals to obtain erasure of links to web pages containing their personal data, but also their right to object to the processing of their personal data under Article 21 of the GDPR. These Guidelines also note that there is an intrinsic link between the two GDPR rights, because the exercise of the right to object is one of the six grounds for the right to obtain erasure. Controllers have an obligation to erase personal data where: (1) individuals object to the processing of their personal data based on reasons relating to their particular situation under Article 21(1) of the GDPR;and (2) controllers cannot demonstrate that there are compelling legitimate reasons for the data processing, which override those reasons.

[1]EDPB, Guidelines 5/2019 on the criteria of the Right to be Forgotten in the search engines cases under the GDPR, 2 December 2019.

Right to object to processing

According to Article 18 of the GDPR, “the data subject shall have the right to object, on grounds relating to his or her particular situation, at any time to processing of personal data concerning him or her which is based on point (a) of Article 5(1), including profiling based on that provision. The controller shall no longer process the personal data unless the controller demonstrates compelling legitimate grounds for the processing which override the interests, rights and freedoms of the data subject or for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.”

Right to obtain human intervention on the part of the controller

According to Article 21 of the GDPR, “the data subject shall have the right not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling, which produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her”. Under Article 22(2)(b), the Member or EUState law that authorises the processing must also incorporate appropriate safeguarding measures. Such measures should include, as a minimum, a way for the data subject to obtain human intervention, express their point of view, and contest the decision.

Human intervention is a key element. Any review must be carried out by someone who has the appropriate authority and capability to change the decision. The reviewer should undertake a thorough assessment of all the relevant data, including any additional information provided by the data subject.[1]The controller must incorporate qualified human intervention that is capable of recovering biases that machines may create in relation to the right to not be subject to automated individual decision-making in Article 22 of the GDPR.[2]

[1]Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, Guidelines on Automated individual decision-making and Profiling for the purposes of Regulation 2016/679, WP251, 3 October 2017.

[2] EDPB, Guidelines 4/2019 on Article 25 Data Protection by Design and by Default, 13 November 2019.

Right to portability

Portability is the right of the data subject to receive a subset of the personal data processed by a data controller concerning them, and to store those data for further personal use. The GDPR defines the right to portability in Article 20 (1) as follows: “The data subject shall have the right to receive the personal data concerning him or her, which he or she has provided to a controller, in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format and have the right to transmit those data to another controller without hindrance from the controller to which the data have been provided.”

Right to rectification

According to Article 16 of the GDPR, “the data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller without undue delay the rectification of inaccurate personal data concerning him or her. Taking into account the purposes of the processing, the data subject shall have the right to have incomplete personal data completed, including by means of providing a supplementary statement.”

Right to restriction of processing

The right to restriction of processing (Article 18 of the GDPR) prevents controllers from further using data that have been reported to be inaccurate, or pertain to processing the data subject has objected to. Specifically, according to Article 18,“the data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller restriction of processing where one of the following applies:

  1. the accuracy of the personal data is contested by the data subject, for a period enabling the controller to verify the accuracy of the personal data;
  2. the processing is unlawful and the data subject opposes the erasure of the personal data and requests the restriction of their use instead;
  3. the controller no longer needs the personal data for the purposes of the processing, but they are required by the data subject for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims;
  4. the data subject has objected to processing pursuant to Article 21(1) pending the verification whether the legitimate grounds of the controller override those of the data subject.”

Safe Harbor Principle

Safe Harbor Principles are a set of privacy and data protection principles that, together with a set of frequently asked questions providing guidance for the implementation of the principles, have been considered by the European Commission to provide an adequate level of protection.These principles were issued by the Government of the United States on 21 July 2000.

Schengen Information System (SIS)

The SIS is a large-scale IT system linked to the abolition of internal border controls of the Schengen territory, which comprises most of the EU territory plus a few other countries.It contains information on objects (e.g. stolen cars, identity documents), as well as persons. Personal information may be recorded in the SIS on:

  • third states nationals who are banned from entry to Schengen territory;
  • people wanted in relation tocriminal proceedings, or people under police surveillance;
  • missing people who should be placed under protection, particularly minors.

It will be replaced by SIS II to allow the connection of more countries, and to provide new functionalities (see the EDPS Opinion on the establishment of SIS II (pdf)).

Security breach

A breach of security occurs where a stated organisational policy or legal requirement regarding information security has been violated. However, every incident which suggests that the confidentiality, integrity or availability of the information has been compromised can be considered a security incident. Every security breach is initiated by a security incident; if that incident is confirmed, it may become a breach.

Security of processing

According to Article 33 of Regulation (EU) No 2018/1725, the controller and the processor must implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure an appropriate level of security in relation to the risks represented by the processing, and the nature of the personal data to be protected.An example, provided in Article 33 of the GDPR, is the pseudonymisation and encryption of data.

Special categories of personal data

Special categories of personal data include data that reveals “racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade-union membership, genetic data, biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person, data concerning health or data concerning a natural’s sex life or sexual orientation” (Article 10 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725; Article 9 of the GDPR). The processing of such information is, in principle, prohibited, except in specific circumstances. It is possible to process sensitive data if, for instance, the processing is necessary for the purpose of medical diagnosis, with specific safeguards in the field of employment law, or with explicit consentfromthe data subject.

Standard contractual clauses

Standard contractual clauses are legal tools to provide adequate safeguards for data transfers from the EU or the EEA to third countries.The European Commission has adopted three Decisions declaring standard contractual clauses to be adequate;  companies can therefore incorporate these clauses into a transfer contract.In principle, no authorisation is required from DPAs to use these clauses. Nevertheless, a formal notification to the DPA might be necessary.

Storage limitation

Personal data should be kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed. Personal data may be stored for longer periods if the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes, or statistical purposes in accordance with Article 89(1) of the GDPR. This is subject to implementation of the appropriate technical and organisational measures required by the GDPR, in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of the data subject.

Supervisory authority

An independent public authority established by a Member State pursuant to Article 51 of the GDPR.

Supervisory authority concerned

This refers to a supervisory authority concerned by the processing of personal data, because:

  • the controller or processor is established in the territory of the Member State of that supervisory authority;
  • data subjects residing in the Member State of that supervisory authority are substantially affected, or likely to be substantially affected, by the processing;
  • a complaint has been lodged with that supervisory authority.


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Third country

A third country is a country which is not bound by the GDPR,i.e. any countryoutside the 28 EU Member States and three EEA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).Third countries may be recognised as offering an adequate level of protection for personal data, in order to enable transfers of personal data from EU and EEA Member States to them. So far, the European Commission has recognised Andorra, Argentina, Canada (only commercial organisations), Faroe Islands, Guernsey, Israel, Isle of Man, Japan Jersey, New Zealand, Switzerland, Uruguay and USA (if the recipient belongs to the Privacy Shield) as providing adequate protection.The effect of such a decision is that personal data can flow from the EU and EEA Member States to that third country (within the limit of the material scope as described by each decision) without any further requirements.

Third party

A natural or legal person, public authority, agency or body other than the data subject, controller, processor and persons who, under the direct authority of the controller or processor, are authorised to process personal data.

Third party recipient

A person or organisation external to the controller and processors to whom personal data is disclosed.

Traffic data

Traffic data are data processed for the purpose of the conveyance of communication on an electronic communications network.According to the means of communication used, the data needed to convey the communication will vary, but may typically include contact details, time and location data.

Although such traffic data should be distinguished from content data, both are quite sensitive as they give insight in confidential communications. These data therefore enjoy special protection in Articles 5 and 6 of the E-privacy Directive 2009/136/EC.


Transparency is a key prerequisite for accountability in the GDPR.  Itsmain focus is to inform data subjects upfront[1] of the existence of the processing and its main characteristics.  Other information (e.g. about the data subject) is available on request.  Data subjects must also be informed of certain events, notably data breaches (in cases where the data subject is exposed to high risk). Transparency is supported by controllers designating a DPO, who acts as a single point of contact for concerns by data subjects. Under the GDPR, data subjects are empowered to be the main guardians of their own rights and freedoms. Evidently, transparency is a prerequisite for detecting and intervening in case of non-compliance.

[1] Upfront in this context means that data subjects should be aware of the processing before it takes place.  It does not imply a certain method of providing information or exclude dynamic ways of providing the necessary information.


Videosurveillance is the monitoring of a specific area, event, activity or person by means of an electronic device or system for visual monitoring. Typically, thisiscarried out using CCTV systems.

Visa Information System (VIS)

The VIS is a large scale IT system which will contain information, including photographs and fingerprint data, about visa applicants. One of itsmain purposes is to fight “visa shopping”. Citizens from more than 120 countries need visas to enter the EU. The inclusion of fingerprint and photograph information is intended to allow border checks to verify whether the person presenting the visa is in fact the person to whom it was issued. The EDPS issued an opinion on the establishment of the VIS in 2005 and another about the access of law enforcement authorities to the VIS in 2006.

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