Understanding GDPR rights: A crucial guide for organizations

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As an organization navigating the complexities of GDPR, it’s essential to be well-versed in the rights of data subjects. These rights are the cornerstone of GDPR, designed to empower individuals with the control and management of their personal data. 

This blog post will clarify these data subject rights, ensuring that your organization is compliant and respectful of the privacy and autonomy of the individuals whose data you handle.

Key takeaways

  • The GDPR grants individuals eight fundamental rights, such as access, rectification, erasure, and objection, which empower them to control their personal data and protect their digital identity.
  • Organizations must ensure GDPR compliance through transparent and lawful data processing practices, up-to-date national legal nuances, and efficient management of data subject requests to avoid substantial fines.
  • Data Protection Officers play a vital role within organizations by overseeing GDPR compliance and ensuring personal data is processed in line with the law, necessitating expert knowledge and independent operational capacity.

Empowering individuals through data control: The eight fundamental rights

Under GDPR, EU citizens have eight fundamental rights that grant them increased control over their personal data. These essential provisions range from ensuring individuals are well informed about the use of their information to granting them the ability to object to certain forms of data processing, and they constitute the foundation for organizations’ compliance with GDPR.

By championing these rights, the GDPR has transformed individuals into proactive stakeholders in terms of their own data protection rather than being simply bystanders. This pivotal transformation within data protection law emphasizes a new dynamic characterized by heightened transparency, accountability, and reverence for individual personal information between entities and individuals.

1. The right to be informed (GDPR Articles 12 to 14)

Under the GDPR, individuals possess a foundational right to be informed. Organizations are mandated to deliver clear, succinct, and comprehensible information regarding the collection, utilization, and processing of personal data. The provision of this information should be straightforwardly accessible and typically comes at no expense to the individual.

This right encompasses situations involving automated decision-making methods like profiling or any type of automated processing. Organizations must convey significant details about such processes’ underlying rationale, along with their potential outcomes and planned impacts. This requirement ensures that individuals can grasp and contest decisions generated exclusively through automatic means without human intervention.

2. The right to rectification (GDPR Article 16)

Individuals have the right under the GDPR to rectify any personal data that is inaccurate or incomplete held by organizations. This vital entitlement allows individuals to keep their personal records precise and current, promoting data accuracy and integrity.

It is incumbent upon data controllers to manage and refresh their information continuously. They must routinely scrutinize and correct personal data as necessary so that it remains both accurate and comprehensive. Adhering to this practice is essential for maintaining continual compliance with GDPR.

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3. The right to be forgotten/right to erasure (GDPR Article 17)

The right to erasure, also known as the right to be forgotten, is a fundamental aspect of the GDPR. This allows individuals under specific circumstances to seek the removal of their personal data. These instances might include when the purpose for which the data was originally collected no longer applies, an individual has retracted consent, or there’s a lack of a lawful basis for its processing.

Should an individual put forward a legitimate erasure request, it becomes incumbent upon data controllers to undertake appropriate measures aimed at notifying other controllers about eliminating any links, copies, or duplicates of said data. This action honors and upholds an individual’s decision regarding how widely their personal information should remain accessible within various databases managed by different controllers.

4. The right to data portability (GDPR Article 20)

The right to data portability, a notable element of the GDPR, empowers individuals to obtain their personal data from a controller in a structured, widely accepted, and machine-readable format. They have the authority to request this information be transferred directly to an alternate controller.

This provision grants individuals increased control over their personal data by simplifying the process of transferring it between service providers. To ensure ease of transfer for users exercising their right to data portability, controllers must supply this data in organized formats like CSV, XML, or JSON that are readily usable by other controllers.

5. The right to restrict processing (Article 18)

Under specific conditions, individuals are entitled to exercise their right to limit the processing of their personal data. This restriction can be applied in situations where:

  • There is a dispute regarding the accuracy of the personal information,
  • The handling of data breaches lawful practices,
  • Or when, even though personal data has outlived its initial purpose, it remains necessary for setting up, pursuing, or defending legal claims.

This right to restrict processing stands as an essential element within GDPR. It empowers individuals with control over how their personal information is processed and safeguards their rights concerning the privacy and protection of their data.

6. The right to withdraw consent (GDPR Article 7)

Under the GDPR, individuals maintain the fundamental right to retract their consent for data processing whenever they choose. This retraction is pivotal in affirming an individual’s authority over how their personal data is handled.

It should be noted that even after consent has been withdrawn, any previous processing of personal data that took place while consent was given remains legitimate. The lawfulness of the prior data handling activities is not retroactively altered by withdrawing consent.

7. The right to access (GDPR Article 15)

Under the GDPR, individuals are endowed with a significant right known as the right to access. This enables them to:

  • Gain entry to their own personal data retained by entities
  • Acquire an unambiguous understanding of what data is stored about them
  • Comprehend the reasons behind the use of their data.

Entities must furnish this information when asked, usually without imposing any fee. Such a mandate augments transparency around processing activities and gives individuals enhanced power to oversee how organizations handle and process their personal information.

8. The right to object (GDPR Article 21)

Under Article 21, individuals are empowered with the ability to object to processing personal data on certain legal bases or for particular reasons. This prerogative is applicable in instances such as when personal data is utilized for direct marketing purposes, during the performance of duties serving the public interest, or while exercising official authority granted to a controller.

Should an individual exercise this right to object, it becomes incumbent upon organizations to halt any processing of that person’s data unless they can establish overriding lawful grounds justifying their actions. The provision bolsters people’s autonomy over how their information is handled and ensures greater alignment between the organizational use of personal data and the privacy expectations and interests of individuals.

Ensuring compliance and handling disputes

Maintaining GDPR compliance and effectively managing data subject disputes are key elements of data protection. This involves:

  • Understanding the role of the Data Protection Officer
  • Implementing strategies for managing data subject requests efficiently
  • Establishing processes for resolving disputes related to data subject rights

Violations related to consent can result in substantial fines under the GDPR, making it crucial for organizations to have robust systems in place for managing data subject requests and disputes. By proactively managing these elements, organizations can ensure GDPR compliance, protect the rights of data subjects, and safeguard their reputation.

Role of the Data Protection Officer (DPO)

Maintaining adherence to GDPR requirements is a critical responsibility of your organization’s Data Protection Officer (DPO). It’s incumbent upon the DPO to verify that personal data pertaining to employees, clients, and other individuals concerned with data privacy are handled in accordance with prevailing data protection legislation.e

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Fulfilling this pivotal role demands from the DPO:

  • Profound expertise in both theoretical and applied aspects of data protection law
  • Comprehensive insight into how their organization functions
  • The capacity to execute responsibilities autonomously
  • Unrestricted entry to all personal data as well as every operation involved in its processing throughout the organization

Managing data subject requests efficiently

Effective handling of data subject requests is essential for adherence to GDPR mandates. The process includes:

  • Confirming the identity of the individual making the request.
  • Determining if they seek access, correction, deletion, or another form of data subject rights exercise.
  • Employing secure means to provide the requested data back to the subject

Integrating automated tools for detecting and categorizing information can improve an organization’s capacity to promptly address data subject requests. By optimizing this procedure, organizations can maintain GDPR compliance while promoting a respect-driven approach toward managing the rights of data subjects.

Resolving data subject disputes

Addressing disputes with a data subject requires a legal obligation to provide clear reasons for any refusal to comply with a data subject’s request and inform the person of their rights to file a complaint or seek legal recourse. It is imperative that organizations maintain clarity in their communications and effectively convey information to ensure transparency with the data subject.

When an organization does not adhere to the specified time frame for responding to Data Subject Access Requests (DSAR), it risks enforcement measures and potential financial penalties under GDPR regulations. As such, it’s vital that organizations establish comprehensive mechanisms for managing conflicts about data subjects’ rights.

How Thoropass can help with GDPR compliance

Grasping the intricacies of GDPR rights is vital for both individuals and entities. Such rights grant individuals dominion over their personal data while obligating organizations to be responsible for how they handle data processing.

Connect with our compliance experts to find out how GDPR applies to your business — no strings attached. Book a chat here.

Our 5-step approach makes GDPR a cinch (okay, not quite a cinch, but as easy as it can get!)

  • STEP 1: Kick-off. After a deep dive into data privacy, our experts customize your GDPR compliance roadmap
  • STEP 2: Onboarding. Get up and running with GDPR policy templates, automated vendor discovery, and clear action items
  • STEP 3: Implementation. Efficiently implement and operationalize GDPR with guided workflows, automation, and support from our experts
  • STEP 4: GDPR assessment and reporting. As a third party, Thoropass delivers a transparent assessment and report to share with customers and prospects

More FAQs

GDPR’s fundamental rules encompass doctrines like legality, fairness, and transparency. They also include concepts of restricting the use of data to its intended purposes, minimizing the amount of collected data, maintaining accuracy in stored information, limiting how long data is kept, and upholding both integrity and confidentiality.

The objective behind these principles is to safeguard personal privacy rights as well as secure individuals’ data from misuse or unauthorized access.

Under the GDPR, data subjects are entitled to several rights regarding their personal information—there are eight rights. These include the right to request correction of their data, deletion, portability, or to impose limitations on or voice objections against its processing. In the article above, we outlined the eight fundamental rights of data subjects.

Under the GDPR, organizations are required to maintain transparency by clearly communicating with individuals about how their personal data is collected, processed, and utilized. This information should be readily available and typically provided at no charge to the individual.

This obligation guarantees that individuals comprehend the handling and utilization of their data.

A Data Protection Officer (DPO) is tasked with overseeing an organization to adhere to data protection regulations when handling personal data. The Data Protection Officer (DPO) plays a critical role that differs from that of a data controller. While a data controller is responsible for determining the purposes and means of processing personal data, the DPO is tasked with ensuring that the organization processes the personal data of its staff, customers, providers, or any other individuals (also referred to as data subjects) in compliance with the applicable data protection rules.

Should an organization not adhere to the mandated timeframe for addressing a Data Subject Access Request (DSAR), it may face penalties and enforcement measures as per GDPR regulations.

It is essential for organizations to comply with the specified deadline in order to avoid any fines associated with non-compliance.

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