Lawful Basis: Legal Obligation

The legal obligation is applicable as a lawful basis when it is necessary to process personal data to comply with a common law or a statutory obligation. In this case, there must be a specific legal provision or an appropriate source of advice or guidance that clearly sets out the obligation.
This does not apply to contractual obligations and it does not apply when it is reasonably possible to achieve the same goal without processing the personal data.
As always, the action should be documented for justification about the why and how the personal data was gathered and processed.

When is it Applied?

It is applied when an organization is obliged to process the personal data to comply with the law.
Be aware that Recital 41 confirms that this does not have to be an explicit statutory obligation, as long as the application of the law is foreseeable to those individuals subject to it. So it includes clear common law obligations.

In a simple and straightforward way, it is applied whenever a state member or EU law enforces it because the overall purpose is to comply with a legal obligation which has a sufficiently clear basis in either common law or statute.

Obviously, it requires the identification of the obligation in question, either by reference to the specific legal provision or else by pointing to an appropriate source of advice or guidance that sets it out clearly. For example, you can refer to a government website or to industry guidance that explains generally applicable legal obligations.

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GDPR Principles

The GDPR define the main responsibilities for organisations when it comes to data protection and personal data processing.

Article 5 of the GDPR introduces the two pillars of the personal data protection and processing. Putting it simply, it introduces the data related principles and who is responsible for enforcing it.

Data Principles

Under GDPR, personal data shall be:

  • processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to individuals;
  • 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 not be considered to be incompatible with the initial purposes;
  • adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed;
  • accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay;
  • 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 insofar as the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes subject to implementation of the appropriate technical and organisational measures required by the GDPR in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of individuals;
  • processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures.

As seen above, there are specific situations where the data protection and processing principles have been, somewhat, extended.
For such cases, safeguards and derogations relating to processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes are introduced in Article 89.

Controller

Under GDPR, a controller is required and shall be

be responsible for, and be able to demonstrate, compliance with the principles.

In short, organisations now have a Data Protection Officer (commonly known as DPO) that has the responsible for, and be able to demonstrate compliance with, the data protection in accordance with GDPR, becoming accountable for its compliance.

Depending on the size of the organisation, DPO can be someone from the organisation itself, except someone from the organisation administration, for obviously possible conflict of interests.

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What is GDPR?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation and, legally, it’s the EU 2016/679 regulation about protection of personal data.

GDPR defines the rights and obligations regarding the gathering, processing and movement of EU citizens personal data. It provides a high and coherent protection level, equivalent in all member states, and is extensible to external EU organizations that work with EU citizens personal data.

The obligations related to the manipulation of personal data now cover things like the right to be forgotten and organizations are now obligated to inform the regulator when they have a personal data breach.

So, what is “personal data”?

In a simple way, it’s all the data about a person that an organization collects, stores and transmits: web forms, cookies, user preferences, medical reports, receipts, etc.. GDPR enforces the lawful, fair and transparent processing of the personal data in relation to the data subject.
In the GDPR legislation, personal data is defined as

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

Check Article 4 for detail.

How about highly sensitive data?

GDPR takes into consideration special types of data that are highly sensitive, such as health, criminal convictions, sexual life, political, genetical, etc.. In such cases, special rules are applicable.

Check Article 9 for detail.

Who does this applies to?

This applies to all people and organizations that collect, gather, transmit or process in any way European Union citizens personal data. Yes, this means that non-EU organizations must comply with this regulation when dealing with EU citizens.

Micro, small and medium-sized organizations have a somewhat relaxed compliance levels. It includes a derogation for organizations with fewer than 250 employees with regard to record-keeping.

Public and criminal law organizations are covered by special rules since they address specific national and European issues.

How hard is it for me to comply with GDPR?

As it’s obviously understandable, it will depend on how big your organization is, what it does and how it already addresses the personal data processing.

The best map road for compliance starts with an assessment performed by a multidisciplinary team composed by GDPR certified people, GDPR knowledgeable lawyers and a pragmatic IT team that truly understands GDPR.

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GDPR Explained

The Regulation (EU) 2016/679, also known as General Data Protection Regulation and usually shortened to GDPR is very important for EU individuals and organizations that deal with EU citizens personal data.

The following articles explain the adoption of GDPR by the organizations:

  1. What is GDPR?
  2. GDPR Principles
  3. Basis for Personal Data Processing
      1. Lawful Basis: Consent
      2. Lawful Basis: Contract
      3. Lawful Basis: Legal Obligation
      4. Lawful Basis: Vital Interests

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