Updated 15 November 2018. This blog was originally published before the GDPR took effect in May 2018.
The EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) gives individuals eight rights relating to their personal data. Organisations must let individuals know how they can exercise these rights, and meet requests promptly. Failure to do so is a violation of the GDPR and could lead to disciplinary action. But first, what is a data subject?
What is a data subject?
The term ‘data subject’ refers to any living individual whose personal data is collected, held or processed by an organisation. Personal data is any data that can be used to identify an individual, such as a name, home address or credit card number.
The eight data subject rights under the GDPR
- 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.
- The right of access
Individuals can submit subject access requests, which oblige organisations to provide a copy of any personal data they hold concerning the individual. Organisations have one month to produce this information, although there are exceptions for requests that are manifestly unfounded, repetitive or excessive.
- 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.
- 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’.
- 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 they no longer need the information but the organisation requires it to establish, exercise or defend a legal claim.
- 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.
- 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 overrides the interests, rights and freedoms of the individual or if the processing is for the establishment or exercise of defence of legal claims.
- 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.
Learn more about the GDPR
If you’d like to understand the GDPR further, enrol on our GDPR Foundation Training Course.
Available in classroom, Live Online and distance learning formats, this one-day course will give you a comprehensive introduction to the GDPR and a practical understanding of the implications and legal requirements for organisations.
Among other things, the course covers:
- Data subjects’ rights;
- Data access requests; and
- Special categories of personal data.