What are the data subject rights under the GDPR?

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 GDPR 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.


  1. 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.


  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 – for example, 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.

An individual can also exercise this right when they no longer use the product or service for which it was originally collected, but the organisation needs 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 overrides the interests, rights and freedoms of the individual.

They can also refuse this right if the processing is for the establishment or exercise of 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.

Learn more about the GDPR

If you’d like to understand the GDPR further, enrol on our GDPR Foundation Training Course.

This one-day course gives you a comprehensive introduction to the GDPR and a practical understanding of the implications and legal requirements for organisations.

Find out more

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