New Article 29 Working Party Opinions

January 22, 2016

Although adopted in December, the latest opinions of the Article 29 Working Party have only now been published.

The first, Opinion 175/16/EN WP 234, has the full title ‘Guidelines for Member States on the criteria to ensure compliance with data protection requirements in the context of the automatic exchange of personal data for tax purposes’ is a 17-page document and can be accessed as a pdf here.

The second, Opinion 176/16/EN WP 179 update, has the full title ‘Update of Opinion 8/2010 on applicable law in light of the CJEU judgement in Google Spain’. That is a much shorter document (12 pages but that includes annexes, including one annex identifying changes to the 2010 Opinion). It does not seem, on a very quick read, to say anything new or profound but SCL members may think differently. The Opinion can be accessed here. The nub of what is communicated is set out below:

‘In conclusion, on the basis of the judgement in Google Spain, an additional element should be added to the criteria described in the WP29 Opinion on applicable law, which may trigger the applicability of EU/national law: the criteria of an ‘inextricable’ (in this specific case economic) ‘link’ between an activity and the data processing. In its judgement, the CJEU identified this ‘inextricable link’ taking into consideration the advertisement-financed business model of free on-line services, which is currently the most common mode of operating businesses on the internet. In addition, the judgement suggests that other business models, and different forms of activity (including revenue raising) in an EU Member State may also trigger the applicability of EU law, although the assessment must be made on a case by case basis. Irrespective of where the data processing itself takes place, so long as a company has establishments in several EU Member States which promote and sell advertisement space, raise revenues or carry out other activities, and it can be established that these activities and the data processing are “inextricably linked”, the national laws of each such establishments will apply. The judgement provides useful clarification on two aspects: first, the judgement makes it clear that the scope of current EU law extends to processing carried out by non-EU entities with a ‘relevant’ establishment whose activities in the EU are ‘inextricably linked’ to the processing of data, even where the applicability of EU law would not have been triggered based on more traditional criteria. Second, the judgement also confirms that – where there is an ‘inextricable link’ – according to Article 4(1)(a) of Directive 95/46/EC, there may be several national laws applicable to the activities of a controller having multiple establishments in various Member States.’