I was challenged recently along the lines that “you don’t like change – you think that GDPR is great and any amendments are negative”.
After I’d spluttered in rage that this wasn’t true, I checked my thoughts. I don’t think the challenge was fair – I don’t mind the idea of repeal or reform of the UK GDPR model – but I do still think that any change needs to be planned and drafted very carefully, so as not to interfere with the core data protection concepts, and checks and balances, that have – broadly – carried through and developed over a series of legal instruments, starting with the Council of Europe Convention 108 of 1981 and the OECD Guidelines of 1980.
But, also, I’m happy to point out that, at times, GDPR is simply rubbish. And I don’t mean in broad legal terms – see for instance David Erdos’s interesting criticisms – I mean that it sometimes doesn’t make sense.
There’s an example in recital 63
A data subject should have the right of access to personal data…in order to be aware of, and verify, the lawfulness of the processing.
I think this is meant to mean “a data subject should have the right of access in order to be aware of the processing and verify its lawfulness”. But, as drafted, it suggests the data subject should be able to be aware of the lawfulness of the processing, and verify that lawfulness, which lacks logic.
But that’s in the recitals, and no one reads the recitals do they?
But consider one of the substantive provisions. Article 5(2), which describes the “accountability principle” says
The controller shall be responsible for, and be able to demonstrate compliance with, paragraph 1 (‘accountability’).
Think about what that says: “the controller shall be responsible for…paragraph 1” (paragraph 1 containing the core data protection principles). What it is surely intended to mean is “the controller shall be responsible for compliance with paragraph 1”, but it doesn’t say that. In literal terms it says that the controller has responsibility for the legislative words.
And it’s worth noting that in the French text (French being the only other language this lumbering English person has really even vague familiarity with), the wording does say that: “…est responsable du respect du paragraphe 1…”.
I’m not suggesting this is a big problem: a regulator and a court would almost certainly read the wording so as to give effect to the legislator’s intention.
It just irritates me.
The views in this post (and indeed most posts on this blog) are my personal ones, and do not represent the views of any organisation I am involved with.