You’re probably aware of ‘consumer rights’: they are the rules organisations need to follow to stop customers from being exploited. The specifics vary between laws, but they almost always include the rights to remain safe, informed and to lodge complaints.
Though essential, these rights don’t reflect the way consumer culture has evolved in recent years. Goods and services are now often exchanged for individuals’ personal data, so similar rules are needed for the way that information is processed.
That’s where the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes in. A lot has been written about the Regulation’s extensive requirements and the potential for massive fines for data breaches, but it’s all to create an environment in which individuals can share their information without having to worry about how secure it is.
Data subjects’ rights
The GDPR provides individuals with eight rights:
1. The right to be informed: Organisations need to tell individuals what data is being collected, how it’s being used, how long it will be kept and whether it will be shared with any third parties. This information must be communicated concisely and in plain language.
2. The right to access: Individuals can submit subject access requests, which oblige organisations to provide a copy of any personal data concerning the individual. Organisations have one month to produce this information, although there are exceptions for requests that are manifestly unfounded, repetitive or excessive.
3. The right to rectification: If the individual discovers that the information an organisation holds on them is inaccurate or incomplete, they can request that it be updated. As with the right to access, organisations have one month to do this, and the same exceptions apply.
4. The right to erasure (also known as ‘the right to be forgotten’): Individuals can request that organisations erase their data in certain circumstances, such as when the data is no longer necessary, the data was unlawfully processed or it no longer meets the lawful ground for which it was collected. This includes instances where the individual withdraws consent.
5. The right to restrict processing: Individuals can request that organisations limit the way an organisation uses personal data. It’s an alternative to requesting the erasure of data, and might be used when the individual contests the accuracy of their personal data or when the individual no longer needs the information but the organisation requires it to establish, exercise or defend a legal claim.
6. The right to data portability: Individuals are permitted to obtain and reuse their personal data for their own purposes across different services. This right only applies to personal data that an individual has provided to data controllers by way of a contract or consent.
7. The right to object: Individuals can object to the processing of personal data that is collected on the grounds of legitimate interests or the performance of a task in the interest/exercise of official authority. Organisations must stop processing information unless they can demonstrate compelling legitimate grounds for the processing that overrides the interests, rights and freedoms of the individual or if the processing is for the establishment or exercise of defence of legal claims.
8. Rights related to automated decision making including profiling: The GDPR includes provisions for decisions made with no human involvement, such as profiling, which uses personal data to make calculated assumptions about individuals. There are strict rules about this kind of processing, and individuals are permitted to challenge and request a review of the processing if they believe the rules aren’t being followed.
Preparing for the GDPR
Although some of these rights are present in existing data protection laws, the GDPR has significantly strengthened the rules around them, and organisations need to plan accordingly. One of the most important steps is to educate employees on how to comply with requests lawfully. This requires a well-rounded knowledge of the GDPR and the other ways it affects organisations and data subjects.
Our GDPR Staff Awareness E-learning Course teaches employees everything they need to know about the Regulation, including:
- The key data protection roles;
- The scope of the GDPR;
- The six principles for collecting and processing personal data; and
- How to comply with the GDPR.