Processing Conditions & Consent
Having established what data you process and its current lifecycle within your organisation, it is important to identify and potentially reassess the basis on which you are processing it - the so-called "condition for processing".
In many cases, businesses will currently be relying on the consent of data subjects as the basis for processing their data. However, other bases exist and will continue to exist under the GDPR. These other bases include where the processing is necessary to comply with a legal obligation, to protect vital interests, or for the performance of a contract between the data controller and the data subject.
There are three key reasons why it is important to reassess your basis for processing in the months leading up to the introduction of the GDPR.
1. If you want to continue relying on consent as the basis for processing data under the GDPR, the way you obtain it may need to change
The GDPR requires consent to be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. If you want to process special category (sensitive) data, explicit consent is required.
Freely given: there should be a genuine choice on the part of the data subject as to whether and how you process their data, and the consent must be as easy to withdraw as it was to give. There should be no question of the data subject being misled, intimidated or negatively impacted by withholding consent. Where there is a clear imbalance or element of subordination in the relationship between you and the data subject, an alternative basis for processing should be found. Additionally, you should not make your performance of a contract conditional on the data subject agreeing to the processing of personal data you do not need to perform the contract.
Specific: the consent you obtain for the processing of personal data must be prominent, concise and separate from your other terms and conditions. If you are processing data for a range of purposes, you should provide a clear way to enable consent to be given or withheld separately for each purpose.
Informed: the GDPR requires specific information to be provided to the data subject, including the name of your organisation and the names of any third parties who will be relying on the consent. Individuals must have enough information to decide whether to consent to the processing of their data or not.
Unambiguous: a statement or clear affirmative action is required to signify that the data subject agrees to you processing their data. Consent can no longer be inferred from silence or from a pre-ticked opt-in box; instead, unticked opt-in boxes or similar active opt-in methods should be introduced with each option being given equal prominence.
Explicit: consent to process special category (sensitive) data must be expressly confirmed in a clear statement to that effect. No other affirmative action will suffice.
This does not necessarily mean you automatically need to refresh all the consents you intend to rely on under the GDPR, but you must consider whether they meet the new criteria and are sufficiently well documented. If this is not the case, you will need to obtain new, compliant consents or rely on another basis for processing (if one is available).
2. If you rely on consent as the basis for processing under the GDPR, the data subject will have more rights than if you process personal data on another basis
Relying on consent as the basis for your processing means that the data subjects will have certain additional rights under the GDPR.
For example, if someone withdraws their consent and there is no other lawful basis for you to process their data, they have the right to have their data "erased". In this situation, in addition to erasing their data you will also have certain obligations to tell any third parties to whom you have disclosed the data that it is being erased and that any links to it or copies of it should also be deleted.
Additionally, if personal data an individual has provided to you is processed by automated means based on their consent, they will have the right to data portability. This means you will need to provide their data to them in a structured, commonly used and machine readable form when they ask for it so that they can move, copy or transfer the data safely and securely.
3. There will be special rules for obtaining consent from children for services requested and delivered over the internet
If you are providing services over the internet directly to children, you will generally need to obtain parental consent (unless you can rely on another lawful basis for processing). The GDPR allows countries to determine the age of children for this purpose as being anywhere between 13 and 16 years old. If you operate across borders, you will need to have appropriate measures in place to accommodate the consent requirements for children in different countries, and you will also need to implement measures to verify the age of the child and the responsibility of the consenting parent.
So, your compliance officer has had data protection compliance as one of his objectives since the year dot. He's bound to be all over GDPR. You definitely have it covered, right?
With the impending introduction of GDPR, data protection compliance can no longer be the responsibility of just one person in your organisation, or a matter of marginal concern. Everyone in the business needs to understand GDPR, what it is and the importance of putting data privacy at the heart of your policies, processes and practices.
This means that:
- the directors, or others responsible for the management of your business, need to have GDPR firmly on their agenda. The widely-publicised penalties for breach of the GDPR and the equivalent legislation being introduced in other non-EU countries (including the Channel Islands) are designed to make data protection an issue for those at the highest level of the organisation
- public authorities, and private sector businesses carrying on high risk processing, must appoint an appropriately qualified and independent data protection officer who will be responsible for overseeing data protection compliance. The data protection officer will need to keep up to date with developments, report directly to management on a regular basis, and liaise with the regulator to the extent required. Other organisations who are not mandatorily obliged to appoint a data protection officer should also consider doing so as a matter of good practice
- a framework of accountability should be introduced so that all project and team leaders at every level of the business are given responsibility for ensuring compliance with the processes and procedures being adopted in line with GDPR
- regular training should be given to all personnel so that they understand the key requirements of GDPR, what their obligations are and why this is so important to the business
Importantly, you also need to look outside your organisation, to your suppliers and others who will process the personal data you control, to ensure they will comply with the GDPR from May 2018. It is your responsibility as the data controller to exercise a high duty of care in selecting these data processors. Start the discussions now to find out what they are doing to prepare.
Being able to comply with the GDPR by May 2018 requires preparation. If you have not yet started preparing, it is imperative that you do so now.
First, you need to understand the life cycle of all categories of data within your business. This means collaborating with the business leads across your organisation (such as the head of your HR, IT and Business Development teams), to identify:
- the entry point: what personal data you collect, where and who it comes from, how it comes into your organisation and why you are receiving it
- the process: where the data goes and what happens to it while it is in your organisation – where and how is it stored, who has access to it and why (is anything superfluous)?
- the inputs: what additional data is added from internal and external sources to the data you receive, who does it and why? Is any of this additional data inferred through profiling or similar means?
- the outputs: what will be produced with the data in terms of reports and other outputs?
- the exit point: when and how is the data deleted or exported from the organisation? If it is exported to a third party – who are they, what is the basis for the data being exported, and how and why will the third party process it?
Once you have mapped this information:
- you will be able to start to identify what has to change to enable you to comply with the GDPR
- you should document and keep the results to demonstrate what you have done to collate the information needed to underpin the development of your new data governance strategy.