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The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) has adopted an Opinion on the interplay of the e-Privacy Directive 2002/58 with the GDPR. The Opinion was adopted in response to a request made by the Belgian Data Protection Authority (DPA) to clarify: (i) the material scope of the e-Privacy Directive and the GDPR; (ii) the interplay of each set of rules and extent to which processing can be governed by both; (iii) the competence, tasks and powers of EU DPAs, and (iv) the applicability of the cooperation and consistency mechanism by DPAs in relation to processing that triggers both sets of rules.  The EDPB’s Opinion is without prejudice to the outcome of the current negotiations concerning the proposed e-Privacy Regulation. We have set out below some of the highlights of the Opinion.

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The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has delivered an Opinion in the Planet49 case (Case C-673/17), finding that a pre-ticked checkbox giving consent for cookies does not constitute valid consent under the e-Privacy Directive 2002/58 read in conjunction with the Data Protection Directive 95/46 or the GDPR.

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The Data Protection Commission (DPC) has published its Annual Report for 25 May-31 December 2018. As always, the Report reveals some interesting statistics and case studies. In the coming months, the DPC expects to conclude a number of statutory inquiries, which it launched in 2018, into multinational technology companies with EU headquarters situated in Ireland. The DPC anticipates that the conclusion of those inquiries will provide precedents for better implementation of the principles of the GDPR across key aspects of internet and ad tech services. This briefing note sets out some of the highlights of the Report.
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On 4 March 2019, Minister Richard Bruton TD announced that he will introduce an Online Safety Act to regulate harmful content online and ensure children are safe online.  The Act will also implement the revised Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive (which Member States are required to implement by 19 September 2020).  The Minister stated that the era of self-regulation in regard to online safety is over.  It is proposed that an Online Safety Commissioner would oversee the new system. The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment is seeking views on the proposed legislation, and has launched a six-week consultation period which is open until 15 April 2019.

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The Data Protection Commission (DPC) has published the results of the annual Global Privacy Sweep for 2018, which examined how well organisations are implementing the concept of accountability.  The Global Privacy Enforcement Network members made contact with 356 organisations in 18 countries during the Sweep. It found that while there were examples of good practice reported, a number of organisations had no processes in place to deal with complaints and queries raised by data subjects, and were not equipped to handle data security incidents appropriately.

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On 13 February 2019, the European Parliament, Council and Commission reached a compromise on the text of the new Copyright Directive (previously discussed here).  The proposed Directive targets digital use of press publications by information society service providers, such as news aggregators and media monitoring services. As discussed below, the two most controversial provisions are Articles 11 and 13, known respectively as the “link tax” and “upload filtering” provisions.

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The EDPB has published information notes on Data Transfers under the GDPR in the Event of a No-Deal Brexit, and on BCRs for Companies Which Have ICO as BCR Lead Supervisory Authority to help organisations prepare for a no-deal Brexit. The information notes build on guidance already issued by the UK ICO and Irish Data Protection Commission (discussed here).

The Information Note on Data Transfers warns that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK will be a ‘third country’ from 30 March 2019. As a result, personal data cannot be transferred from the EEA to the UK unless organisations implement a data transfer mechanism under the GDPR, such as standard contractual clauses; ad hoc contractual clauses; binding corporate rules (BCRs); codes of conduct and certification mechanisms, or a derogation. In regard to data transfers from the UK to the EEA, the UK Government have confirmed the current practice, which permits personal data to flow freely from the UK to the EEA, will continue in the event of a no-deal Brexit.


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The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) has published its work program for the next two years. The program lists the guidelines, consistency opinions, and other types of activities the EDPB intends to carry out. The program is based on the needs identified by the EDPB as priority for individuals, stakeholders, as well as the EU legislator planned activities. The Guidelines due to be published over the coming two years include:

  • Guidelines on reliance on Art. 6(1) b in the context of online services (i.e. the contractual necessity legal basis)
  • Guidelines on concepts of controller and processor (Update of the WP29 Opinion)
  • Guidelines on the notion of legitimate interest of the data controller (Update of the WP29 Opinion)
  • Guidelines on the Territorial Scope of the GDPR (finalisation after the public consultation)


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The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) has adopted an Opinion (3/2019) on the interplay between the EU Clinical Trials Regulation (536/2014) (CTR) and the GDPR, following a request from the European Commission to review its Q&A on the topic. The CTR, which is expected to enter into force in 2020, aims to harmonise the rules for conducting clinical trials throughout the EU. It does not contain any derogations from the GDPR and will therefore apply simultaneously with the GDPR.

The EDPB’s Opinion focuses on: (1) the legal basis under the GDPR for processing personal data in the course of a clinical trial protocol (primary use), and (2) further use of clinical trial data for other scientific purposes (secondary use). Some highlights of the EDPB’s Opinion are set out below.


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The European Commission has published an infographic on compliance with and enforcement of the GDPR since from May 2018 to January 2019. The infographic reveals some interesting statistics, including:

  • 95,180 complaints have been made to EU national data protection authorities (DPAs) by individuals who believe their rights under the GDPR have been violated. The majority of these complaints concerned telemarketing, promotional emails, and video surveillance/CCTV.


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