Article 30 GDPR

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Article 30 - Records of processing activities
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Chapter 10: Delegated and implementing acts

Legal Text[edit | edit source]


Article 30 - Records of processing activities

1. Each controller and, where applicable, the controller's representative, shall maintain a record of processing activities under its responsibility. That record shall contain all of the following information:

(a) the name and contact details of the controller and, where applicable, the joint controller, the controller's representative and the data protection officer;
(b) the purposes of the processing;
(c) a description of the categories of data subjects and of the categories of personal data;
(d) the categories of recipients to whom the personal data have been or will be disclosed including recipients in third countries or international organisations;
(e) where applicable, transfers of personal data to a third country or an international organisation, including the identification of that third country or international organisation and, in the case of transfers referred to in the second subparagraph of Article 49(1), the documentation of suitable safeguards;
(f) where possible, the envisaged time limits for erasure of the different categories of data;
(g) where possible, a general description of the technical and organisational security measures referred to in Article 32(1).

2. Each processor and, where applicable, the processor's representative shall maintain a record of all categories of processing activities carried out on behalf of a controller, containing:

(a) the name and contact details of the processor or processors and of each controller on behalf of which the processor is acting, and, where applicable, of the controller's or the processor's representative, and the data protection officer;
(b) the categories of processing carried out on behalf of each controller;
(c) where applicable, transfers of personal data to a third country or an international organisation, including the identification of that third country or international organisation and, in the case of transfers referred to in the second subparagraph of Article 49(1), the documentation of suitable safeguards;
(d) where possible, a general description of the technical and organisational security measures referred to in Article 32(1).

3. The records referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be in writing, including in electronic form.

4. The controller or the processor and, where applicable, the controller's or the processor's representative, shall make the record available to the supervisory authority on request.

5. The obligations referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall not apply to an enterprise or an organisation employing fewer than 250 persons unless the processing it carries out is likely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects, the processing is not occasional, or the processing includes special categories of data as referred to in Article 9(1) or personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences referred to in Article 10.

Relevant Recitals[edit | edit source]

Recital 13: Harmonisation of Protection and Advantages for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
In order to ensure a consistent level of protection for natural persons throughout the Union and to prevent divergences hampering the free movement of personal data within the internal market, a Regulation is necessary to provide legal certainty and transparency for economic operators, including micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and to provide natural persons in all Member States with the same level of legally enforceable rights and obligations and responsibilities for controllers and processors, to ensure consistent monitoring of the processing of personal data, and equivalent sanctions in all Member States as well as effective cooperation between the supervisory authorities of different Member States. The proper functioning of the internal market requires that the free movement of personal data within the Union is not restricted or prohibited for reasons connected with the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data. To take account of the specific situation of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, this Regulation includes a derogation for organisations with fewer than 250 employees with regard to record-keeping. In addition, the Union institutions and bodies, and Member States and their supervisory authorities, are encouraged to take account of the specific needs of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the application of this Regulation. The notion of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises should draw from Article 2 of the Annex to Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC.

Recital 82: Maintenance and Availability of Records
In order to demonstrate compliance with this Regulation, the controller or processor should maintain records of processing activities under its responsibility. Each controller and processor should be obliged to cooperate with the supervisory authority and make those records, on request, available to it, so that it might serve for monitoring those processing operations.

Recital 89: Abolishment of Indiscriminate General Notification
Directive 95/46/EC provided for a general obligation to notify the processing of personal data to the supervisory authorities. While that obligation produces administrative and financial burdens, it did not in all cases contribute to improving the protection of personal data. Such indiscriminate general notification obligations should therefore be abolished, and replaced by effective procedures and mechanisms which focus instead on those types of processing operations which are likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons by virtue of their nature, scope, context and purposes. Such types of processing operations may be those which in, particular, involve using new technologies, or are of a new kind and where no data protection impact assessment has been carried out before by the controller, or where they become necessary in the light of the time that has elapsed since the initial processing.

Commentary[edit | edit source]

Article 30 GDPR requires controllers and processors to maintain a record of processing activities (Article 4(2) GDPR). This obligation represents the expression of several data processing principles. On the one hand, it promotes accountability by allowing the controller to keep track of its processing and amend it where necessary. On the other hand, it increases the overall transparency of the processing and makes it easier for data subjects to exercise their rights. In practice, the record of processing activities is nothing more than an updated written account of the main elements of the processing.

(1) Record of Processing Activities by the Controller[edit | edit source]

Article 30(1) GDPR provides a non-exhaustive list of the elements that constitute the record of processing activities.

Article 30(1)(a) states it should contain the name and contact details of the controller and, where applicable, the joint controller(s), the controller's representative and the data protection officer. This information is intended to enable an unambiguous identification of the controller(s) and whoever else is responsible under the GDPR. The notion of 'contact details' is not limited to a simple email address. It must contain all the elements (physical address, telephone number, contact person)[1] that make it possible to contact a particular person or, where appropriate, reach them for an inspection.

Article 30(1)(b) requires the controller to provide a description of the purposes of the processing. It is noteworthy that this does not extend to a description of the legal basis for the processing operations. However, this gap should be filled by interpreting the text in line with the principles of fair processing. In particular, under the principle of accountability, according to which the controller must be able to demonstrate compliance with the GDPR, it must have a "firm and reasoned notion about the legal basis of processing before it starts any operation, and this notion should be verifiable by means of its records. Thus, in order for the keeping of records to be meaningful, it will be necessary for the controller to be able to demonstrate on which legal basis it relies in its processing".[2]

Article 30(1)(c) GDPR establishes that the record of processing activities shall describe the categories of data subjects and the categories of personal data. Examples of categories of data subjects are "website visitors", "clinic patients", "employees". Categories of personal data may be "website clicks", "diagnosis", "holiday leave", as well as "union affiliations". Scholars have highlighted that each category of personal data should be tied to the category of data subject it belongs to. For example, the record of processing activities should clearly show that the two categories "holiday leave" and "union affiliations" are processed with regard to the "employees" category.[3]

Article 30(1)(d) prescribes that controllers should describe the categories of recipients to whom personal data have been or will be disclosed. The wording of the provision suggests that only the categories of addressees have to be indicated, such as "suppliers", "accountants", "marketing consultants", or "legal advisors". However, this ambiguity does not seem advisable, as other provisions of the GDPR require the controller to keep track of individual recipients. For example, Article 15(1)(c) GDPR and Article 19 GDPR require the disclosure of “recipients or categories of recipients” and specific recipients “if the data subject requests it” respectively. As such, it would go against its aim of increasing accountability to not specify the recipients in the record of processing activities.[4]

In accordance with Article 30(1)(e), the controller shall provide information regarding the transfers of personal data to a third country or an international organisation and, in the case of the applicability of Article 49(1) GDPR, the documentation of suitable safeguards. There is no obligation to name the means by which the controller intends to "ensure an adequate level of protection on the part of the foreign recipient of the data. Additional information is needed only if a data transfer shall, exceptionally, be based on Article 49(1), second subparagraph, which pertains to occasional ('non-repetitive') transfers of data about a limited number of data subjects and for compelling legitimate interests".[5]

Finally, Article 30(1)(f) and (g) GDPR respectively require controllers to clarify the envisaged time limits for erasure of different categories of data and, where possible, provide general description of the technical and organisational security measures referred to in Article 32(1) GDPR.

(2) Record of Processing Activities by the Processor[edit | edit source]

Article 30(2) GDPR sets out the rules governing the maintenance of records of processing activities by the processor. These rules, which partly overlap with those established by Article 30(1) GDPR, notably provide for an obligation on the processor to record: the name and contact details of the controller on behalf of which the processor is acting as well as the name and contact details of other processors (Article 30(2)(a) GDPR);[6] the categories of processing carried out on behalf of each controller (Article 30(2)(b) GDPR); where applicable, information on the transfers of personal data to a third country or an international organisation and, in the case of the applicability of Article 49(1) GDPR, the documentation of suitable safeguards (Article 30(2)(c) GDPR); a general description of the technical and organisational security measures referred to in Article 32(1) GDPR (Article 30(2)(d) GDPR).

(3) Written Form[edit | edit source]

The records of processing activities shall be in writing, including in electronic form, and kept up to date. This enables controllers to provide DPAs with the records when requested under Article 30(4) GDPR and to comply with, inter alia, the principles of accountability and transparency.[7] Any changes to the processing operation have to be transparent and traceable (e.g. who has been the controller, processor or data protection officer – and when). Moreover, “in order to be able to track changes to the entries in the directory (e.g. who was responsible when, data protection officer, etc.), the changes should be documented with a storage period of one year.[8]

(4) Provision to Supervisory Authority[edit | edit source]

Supervisory authorities can investigate controllers and processor as general control measure, but also where data breaches have occurred and data subjects have filed complaints. Records of processing activities therefore have to be available at any time to be provided to DPAs upon request.

(5) Exceptions[edit | edit source]

An enterprise or an organisation employing less than 250 persons is not obliged to maintain records of processing. However, this exception does not apply if an organisation carries out processing that is likely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects, the processing is not occasional, or the processing includes special categories of data (Article 9(1) GDPR) or personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences referred to in Article 10 GDPR.

Decisions[edit | edit source]

→ You can find all related decisions in Category:Article 30 GDPR

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Hartung, in Kühling, Buchner, DS-GVO BDSG, Article 30, margin number 17 (C.H.Beck 2020, 3rd Edition).
  2. Kotschy, in Kuner, Bygrave, Docksey, The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): A Commentary, Article 30 GDPR, p. 620 (Oxford University Press 2020).
  3. Hartung, in Kühling, Buchner, DS-GVO BDSG, Article 30, margin number 19 (C.H.Beck 2020, 3rd Edition).
  4. In a broadly similar sense, Kotschy, in Kuner, Bygrave, Docksey, The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): A Commentary, Article 30 GDPR, p. 620 (Oxford University Press 2020).
  5. Kotschy, in Kuner, Bygrave, Docksey, The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): A Commentary, Article 30 GDPR, p. 622 (Oxford University Press 2020).
  6. "Which kind of processors should be included is not explained: they could be involved either by having delegated processing tasks to the documenting processor or by being sub-processors of the documenting processor. In both cases there would have to exist a contract between the documenting processor and the orher processor or processors, in which case their identity must be known and recorded anyway by the documenting processor, which is also the case with regard to the names of the representative (Article 27) and data protection officer (Article 37) both of which are also required under Article 30(2)(a)." See Kotschy, in Kuner, Bygrave, Docksey, The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): A Commentary, Article 30 GDPR, p. 623 (Oxford University Press 2020).
  7. Hartung, in Kühling, Buchner, DS-GVO BDSG, Article 30, margin number 31 (C.H.Beck 2020, 3rd Edition).
  8. DSK, Datenschutzkonferenz, ‘Hinweise zum Verzeichnis von Verarbeitungstätigkeiten’, Art. 30 DS-GVO, February 2018, p. 3 (available here).