GER: Wave of warning letters – demands for data protection changes in Germany

2B Advice
Reports of the first warning letters after the GDPR with its new regulations came into force on 25.05.2018 are now pouring in. The adoption of a short-term ban on data protection warning letters has thus failed.

The current wave of warning letters is by no means widespread. Also, legal opinion as to whether it is possible to have an attorney issue a warning letter against data protection violations by a competitor under the German Unfair Competition Act (Gesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb) is divided. Such a violation could, for example, consist of a failure to publish a privacy policy declaration on one’s website or disregard for other data protection regulations.

Nevertheless, this is leading to general uncertainty and giving rise to – or increasing – fears of warnings.

Now that the short-term ban on data protection warnings has failed, voices are clamoring for a change to German data protection.

The joint declaration demands, among other things, that warning letters on behalf of data subjects by associations and organizations be restricted to certain cases and that no additional costs may be claimed for this. The federal government is also called on to press for improvements to the GDPR at the EU level. For example, particular requirements should be obligatory only above threshold values such as the number of employees or sales revenues.

In the transition to the requirements of the new data protection laws, non-deliberate violations can hardly be avoided. In this context, the demand for a restriction of warning letters regarding data protection violations may surely be welcomed. But protection from warning letters or the mitigation of certain data protection requirements should not lead us to assume that data protection can be disregarded.

It remains the responsibility of every person to make every effort to drive forward the implementation of the GDPR, and this should also be seen as an opportunity to verify and adapt one’s processes not only with respect to data protection. European data protection should be seen rather as a competitive advantage vis-à-vis corporations outside Europe, in which data is inadequately protected.

Photo: © fotomek - Fotolia

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