The right to information

Who processes my personal data? Why and how is it processed?

Companies or administrations must give you these elements in clear and plain language at the same time as the collection of your data or, at the latest, within one month following the collection.

This right is limited in some cases (e.g. in case of public safety or the prosecution of criminal offences).

In case of a security breach involving a breach of personal data likely to create a high risk for your rights and freedoms, the controller must inform you as soon as possible so that you can take the necessary precautions.

What information should be communicated to you?

Where personal data relating to you are collected from you, the controller shall provide you with all of the following information:

  1. the identity and the contact details of the controller and, where applicable, of the controller's representative;
  2. the contact details of the data protection officer, where applicable;
  3. the purposes of the processing for which the personal data are intended as well as the legal basis for the processing;
  4. where the processing is based on point (f) of Article 6(1), the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by a third party;
  5. the recipients or categories of recipients of the personal data, if any;
  6. where applicable, the fact that the controller intends to transfer personal data to a third country or international organisation and the existence or absence of an adequacy decision by the Commission, or in the case of transfers referred to in Article 46 or 47, or the second subparagraph of Article 49(1), reference to the appropriate or suitable safeguards and the means by which to obtain a copy of them or where they have been made available.

If the data has not been collected directly from you, the categories of personal data must also be communicated to you.

In addition, the following information must also be provided to you, where necessary to ensure fair and transparent processing:

  1. the period for which the personal data will be stored, or if that is not possible, the criteria used to determine that period;
  2. the existence of the right to request from the controller access to and rectification or erasure of personal data or restriction of processing concerning the data subject or to object to processing as well as the right to data portability;
  3. where the processing is based on point (a) of Article 6(1) or point (a) of Article 9(2), the existence of the right to withdraw consent at any time, without affecting the lawfulness of processing based on consent before its withdrawal;
  4. the right to lodge a complaint with a supervisory authority;
  5. whether the provision of personal data is a statutory or contractual requirement, or a requirement necessary to enter into a contract, as well as whether the data subject is obliged to provide the personal data and of the possible consequences of failure to provide such data;
  6. the existence of automated decision-making, including profiling, referred to in Article 22(1) and (4) and, at least in those cases, meaningful information about the logic involved, as well as the significance and the envisaged consequences of such processing for the data subject.

Finally, in some cases you must be informed if there is a personal data breach. 

Who should provide this information?

The data controller has to provide the information to you.

The controller is defined by the GDPR as “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.”

The same duty of information applies to the one who processes your data with the intention of transmitting it to third parties.

How should the information be communicated to you?

The information communicated to you must be easily accessible, easy to understand and formulated in clear and simple terms.

The information shall be provided in written form or by other means including, where appropriate, by electronic means.

When do you have to be informed?

If the data has been collected directly from you, the information must be provided to you at the time when it was obtained.

If the data has not been collected directly from you, the information must be provided:

  1. within a reasonable period after obtaining the personal data, but at the latest within one month, having regard to the specific circumstances in which the personal data are processed;
  2. if the personal data are to be used for communication with you, at the latest at the time of the first communication; or
  3. if a disclosure to another recipient is envisaged, at the latest when the personal data are first disclosed. 
When is the right to information not applicable?

The right to information does not apply if you already have the information.

Furthermore, if the data has not been received directly from you (indirect collection), the right to information does not apply when:

  1. the provision of such information proves impossible or would involve a disproportionate effort, in particular for processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes, subject to the conditions and safeguards referred to in Article 89(1) or in so far as the obligation referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article is likely to render impossible or seriously impair the achievement of the objectives of that processing. In such cases the controller shall take appropriate measures to protect the data subject's rights and freedoms and legitimate interests, including making the information publicly available; 
  2. obtaining or disclosure is expressly laid down by Union or Member State law to which the controller is subject and which provides appropriate measures to protect the data subject's legitimate interests; or
  3. where the personal data must remain confidential subject to an obligation of professional secrecy regulated by Union or Member State law, including a statutory obligation of secrecy
Special case: communication in case of a data breach

If the personal data breach is likely to result in a high risk to your rights and freedoms, the controller shall inform you of the personal data breach without undue delay.

This communication shall describe in clear and plain language the nature of the personal data breach and contain at least the information and measures referred to in points (b), (c) and (d) of Article 33(3) of the GDPR.

This communication shall not be required if any of the following conditions are met:

  1. the controller has implemented appropriate technical and organisational protection measures, and those measures were applied to the personal data affected by the personal data breach, in particular those that render the personal data unintelligible to any person who is not authorised to access it, such as encryption;
  2. the controller has taken subsequent measures which ensure that the high risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects referred to in paragraph 1 (article 34 GDPR) is no longer likely to materialise;
  3. it would involve disproportionate effort. In such a case, there shall instead be a public communication or similar measure whereby the data subjects are informed in an equally effective manner.
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