The GDPR: Data protection rights and responsibilities

If you strip away the big talking points of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) – the massive fines and consent and what counts as personal data – you’re left with a simple, logical truth: data subjects have certain rights regarding the way their data is used, and organisations are responsible for upholding these rights.

Everything in the GDPR is essentially geared towards this. Individuals suffer when their data is lost, stolen or abused, and it’s up to those who process the information to ensure sensitive information remains safe.

Data subject rights and organisations’ responsibilities

The GDPR enshrines eight data subject rights:

  1. The right to be informed

Organisations need to tell individuals what data is being collected, how it’s being used, how long it will be kept and whether it will be shared with any third parties. This information must be communicated concisely and in plain language.

If anyone has any doubts about how their data is being used, they can exercise their second data subject right.

  1. The right of access

Individuals can submit DSARs (data subject access requests), which require organisations to confirm that their personal data is being processed, give the individuals a copy of any data stored on them and provide other supplementary information about their privacy policy.

Organisations have one month to produce this information, although there are exceptions for requests that are manifestly unfounded, repetitive or excessive.

  1. The right to rectification

If an individual discovers that the information an organisation holds on them is inaccurate or incomplete, they can request that it be updated.

As with the right of access, organisations have one month to do this, and the same exceptions apply.

  1. The right to erasure

Individuals can request that organisations erase their data in certain circumstances, such as when the data is no longer necessary, the data was unlawfully processed or it no longer meets the lawful ground for which it was collected. This includes instances where the individual withdraws consent.

The right to erasure is also known as ‘the right to be forgotten’.

  1. The right to restrict processing

Individuals can request that an organisation limits the way it uses personal data.

It’s an alternative to requesting the erasure of data, and might be used when an individual contests the accuracy of their personal data or when the organisation no longer needs the information but the individual requires the organisation to keep it to establish, exercise or defend a legal claim.

  1. The right to data portability

Individuals are permitted to obtain and reuse their personal data for their own purposes across different services. This right only applies to personal data that an individual has provided to data controllers by way of a contract or consent.

  1. The right to object

Individuals can object to the processing of personal data that is collected on the grounds of legitimate interests, or the performance of a task in the interest/exercise of official authority.

Organisations must stop processing information unless they can demonstrate compelling legitimate grounds for the processing that override the interests, rights and freedoms of the individual, or if the processing is for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.

  1. Rights related to automated decision-making, including profiling

The GDPR includes provisions for decisions made with no human involvement, such as profiling, which uses personal data to make calculated assumptions about individuals.

There are strict rules about this kind of processing, and individuals are permitted to challenge and request a review of the processing if they believe the rules aren’t being followed.

GDPR compliance support with GRCI Law

Those looking for help meeting their data protection responsibilities should consider our Privacy as a Service solution.

Led by our management team of experienced DPOs (data protection officers), lawyers, barristers, and information and cyber security experts, we’ll work with you to find a tailored solution that suits your needs.

This includes help with your DPO requirements, breach notification processes and data privacy management, and support completing DSARs.

Find out more

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