Following four years of debate, the (EU) 2016/679 regulation of the European Parliament and Council of the 27th of April 2016, is enforced.
The regulation refers to the protection of individuals, concerning the process of their personal data, as well as, the free exchange of those data (General Regulation for Data Protection).
The regulation of the 27th of April 2016 (having a two-year harmonization period) entered into force on the 25th of May 2018.
The aforementioned regulation replaced the Directive 95/46 / EC, the provisions of which were transferred to the 2001 Personal Data Processing (Protection of Individuals) Law (Law 138 (I) / 2001).
The regulation, unlike the Directive, ensures a high level of harmonization and it is directly applicable to all European Member States.
The protection of natural persons, in regard to the processing of their personal data, it is a fundamental right. The Article 8 (1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and Article 16 (1) of the treaty for the operation of the European Union (TFEU), specify that every person has the right to protect its personal data.
The worldwide integration and rapid development of the data processing, as well as, the functioning of a global market, have resulted in an unparalleled increase flow of data collection, processing and cross-border exchange, from both private companies and public authorities.
The Regulation aims the uniformity and decisive protection of the privacy, of the citizens of the European Union. This requirement ascended, due to the intense daily increasing trend of personal data exchange, worldwide, which in many cases was subject to violations of the personal data of individuals.
Interpretation of Definitions
According to the provisions of the Regulation, “personal data” is defined as the data and any kind of information that directly or indirectly identify an individual. This information may relate to his / her private, professional and / or personal life.
The processing of personal data, in accordance with the Article 4 (2) of the Regulation, indicates that any act or series of operations carried out with or without the use of automated means, such as: collecting, recording, organizing, structuring, storing, adapting or modifying, recovering, searching of information, using, disclosing by transmission, distributing or any other form of supplying, associating or combining, restraining, removing or destructing of data.
“Controller” is the natural or legal person, public authority, service or any other body that defines the purposes and manners of processing personal data.
“Processor” is the natural or legal person, public authority, service or any other entity, which process the personal data on behalf of the controller.
The Basic Principles of the Regulation
The basic principle of the Regulation is the harmonization and introduction of a set of data protection standards, which will apply uniformly, throughout the European Union.
Undoubtedly, one of the biggest changes in the regulatory field of personal data protection derives mainly, from the extended jurisdiction of the Regulation, in all the European member states. The Regulation applies to all companies and organizations, which process personal data of people residing in the European Union, irrespective of the company’s registered office location.
Additionally, the Regulation refers to all private and public enterprises, as well as, government authorities that collect, process and generally manage personal data of customers, employees, associates or other natural persons, which are European citizens.
In summary, the new Regulation applies to all businesses that process personal data of European citizens, regardless of their location (inside and outside the European Union).
Moreover, an equally important characteristic of the Regulation is to introduce and strengthen the rights of individuals, whose personal data are being processed.
Additionally, it is notable to mention that the new Regulation introduced new obligations to businesses on the way they process personal data.
In fact, the Regulation is significantly increases the obligations of all entities that manage personal data of European citizens.
Severe amount penalties, according to Article 83 of the Regulation will be imposed to offenders, with fines ranging from €10,000,000 to €20,000,000 or from 2% to 4% of the total annual global turnover of the previous business year of a business (applies to whichever is the higher). The fines will be applied according to the nature of the violation. Hence, the heavier fines will be exercised for breaches concerning the basic principles of the Regulation, related to data processing, data transfer in a third country without the consent of the individual and to the non-compliance with an order or limitation of the data processing, imposed by the supervisory authority.
Decisions, which are issued by the supervising authorities, in the context of the fine exercise power, will be subject to appeal before the Administrative Court on the basis of Article 146 of the Constitution.
Furthermore, another important fact of the Regulation is to strengthen the existing principles governing the processing of personal data, and according to Article 5 of the Regulation, they state that personal data must:
– Be subjected to legitimate and lawful processing with a clear purpose (lawfulness, fairness and transparency).
– Be collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes, and, not to be further processed in a manner incompatible with those purposes (purpose limitation).
– Be appropriate, relevant and limited to what is necessary for the purposes for which they are processed (data minimization).
– Be accurate and proceed with all reasonable steps to immediately delete or correct personal data that is inaccurate (accuracy).
– Be stored, only for as long as it is required for the purposes of the processing of personal data and on the basis of the applicable legal requirements of each organization (storage period limitation).
– Be processed in a manner that assures the appropriate security of personal data, including the protection against unauthorized or unlawful processing, loss, destruction or deterioration, using appropriate technical or organizational measures (integrity and confidentiality)
– Entities collecting and processing personal data are responsible and must be able, at all times, to demonstrate compliance with all the principles governing the processing of personal data (accountability).
Rights of individuals
The Regulation based on the structure of the existing legislative framework, strengthens the rights deriving from the 1995 Directive and introduces new rights and obligations.
Indicative is the explicit legislative fortification of the “right to be forgotten”, which is the right that allows the individual to maintain control of his / her personal information, mainly in the cyberspace.
The imperative rights of individuals, whose personal data are being processed, are:
– The right to object at any time, to the processing of their personal data.
– The right to transfer the data that are based on their consent, on receiving or requesting the transfer of their data from one company to another.
– Right to the information.
– Right to access the data.
– Right to correct the data.
– The right to “be forgotten” or delete the personal data.
– The right to limit the processing of date, when the accuracy of the data is in dispute or is illegal or when the company no longer needs those data.