EU mem­ber states be­gin enforcing Gen­eral Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion

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Start­ing with Fri­day, 15 May, all Euro­pean Union mem­ber states start enforcing the Gen­eral Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion, which pro­vides stricter re­quire­ments for per­sonal data pro­cess­ing.

As ex­plained by Latvia’s Jus­tice Min­istry, this new reg­u­la­tion will com­bine all re­quire­ments for data pro­tec­tion in the EU. It ap­plies to pro­cess­ing, stor­age, pro­vi­sion to other companies and ar­chiv­ing. The reg­u­la­tion also pro­vides uni­fied rules for all busi­ness­men, re­gard­less of the coun­tries in which they are reg­is­tered.

GDPR im­proves on ex­ist­ing prin­ci­ples and forms uni­fied data pro­tec­tion rules across the en­tire Euro­pean Union. It also in­cludes the ba­sic rights and free­doms of data pro­tec­tion, the min­istry ex­plains. Be­cause the reg­u­la­tion pro­vides stricter re­quire­ments for giv­ing con­sent for data pro­cess­ing, it is now nec­es­sary for companies to add changes to different ap­pli­ca­tion forms, such as the ones res­i­dents fill to re­ceive a cus­tomer card.

In ad­di­tion to different data pro­tec­tion du­ties and penal­ties for vi­o­la­tions, the reg­u­la­tion also pro­vides rights to pri­vate per­sons to re­quest the com­pany that has their per­sonal data to edit or delete it. Vi­o­la­tion of the reg­u­la­tion is pun­ish­able with a fine of up to EUR 20 mil­lion or 4% of a com­pany’s in­ter­na­tional turnover. Data State In­spec­torate rep­re­sen­ta­tive Laris Linebergs promised this week at a press-con­fer­ence that the in­sti­tu­tion’s ap­proach will re­main «con­sult first». He did not deny that penal­ties will be ap­plied in cases when companies breach the reg­u­la­tion or Latvia’s laws. The reg­u­la­tion pro­vides ap­ply­ing a one-stop agency prin­ci­ple for busi­ness­men so that companies have to co­op­er­ate only with a sin­gle data pro­tec­tion in­sti­tu­tion.

To adopt GDPR, it was nec­es­sary for every EU mem­ber state to im­prove their leg­is­la­tion. Latvia has de­vel­oped Pri­vate Per­sons Data Pro­tec­tion Law for this. The Saeima has al­ready con­cep­tu­ally sup­ported the new law in the first read­ing.

Jus­tice Min­istry notes that the reg­u­la­tion is a di­rectly ap­pli­ca­ble leg­isla­tive act in the EU. This means all ac­tiv­i­ties per­formed on a na­tional level are meant to clar­ify and add to the reg­u­la­tion.

On Thurs­day, 24 May, Jus­tice Min­istry’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives men­tioned dur­ing the press­con­fer­ence that there are many ru­mours cir­cu­lat­ing about the reg­u­la­tion at the mo­ment. One ru­mour states that it will no longer be al­lowed to con­grat­u­late peo­ple with per­son­al­ized on the ra­dio or in news­pa­pers. Jus­tice sys­tem’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives say no such re­stric­tions are pro­vided by the reg­u­la­tion. Nev­er­the­less, res­i­dents are ad­vised not to dis­close the per­sonal data of the peo­ple they want to con­grat­u­late.

In spite of so­ci­ety’s con­fu­sion with the new reg­u­la­tion, Jus­tice Min­is­ter Dz­in­tars Ras­načs said that the min­istry has al­ready done a lot to in­form res­i­dents and busi­ness­men about changes.

The min­is­ter em­pha­sized that the reg­u­la­tion does not pro­hibit any­thing for res­i­dents. It does pro­vide more rights and more du­ties for data pro­cess­ing companies. The min­is­ter said that Latvia al­ready has reg­u­la­tions that pro­tect peo­ple’s data. How­ever, the new reg­u­la­tion will help pro­mote per­sonal data pro­tec­tion even more. Om­buds­man Juris Jan­sons had pre­vi­ously said that the Saeima would study if the coun­try’s ex­ist­ing reg­u­la­tions fit GDPR. Ac­cord­ing to him, this means the chaos with GDPR will con­tinue at least un­til the end of the year.

Ieva Čīka/LETA

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