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Data Protection Leader
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Volume: 15 Issue: 3
(March 2018)

eu data reform gdpr sensitive personal data

victoria hordern

bates wells braithwaite


EU: How do you solve a problem like special categories of data?

Right from the start, EU data protection law has reserved special status for a list of particular data categories. Privacy professionals will be familiar with the concept that, when processing sensitive (or special categories) of personal data, a controller has to rely on an additional basis on top of the general requirement to rely on a lawful ground. These rules are now set out in Articles 6 and 9 of the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) (‘GDPR’). The starting point under the GDPR is that there is a general prohibition of any processing of these special categories of data under Article 9. A controller then has to argue that it can rely on one of the exceptions or derogations set out under the GDPR in order to use the data. Additionally, there is a degree of flexibility for each EU Member State to introduce its own variation of the rules permitting use of these special categories. But what makes these Article 9 categories so special? And do the stricter requirements around the use of these data categories in the GDPR make practical sense? Victoria Hordern, Head of Data Privacy at Bates Wells Braithwaite, explores.

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