The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union requires organizations to be even more cautious when collecting, processing, and storing data. Data privacy has proved to be a significant concern in recent years.
GDPR provides protection for sensitive personal data, and this includes special category data. This article will discuss GDPR special category data, including what it is, how to handle it, and why it matters.
On May 25, 2018, the GDPR went into effect to harmonize data privacy rules throughout Europe and give individuals more control over their personal data.
Any business, even based outside of the EU, that collects, processes, or stores the personal data of EU individuals is subject to the regulation in the respective member state.
GDPR serves the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person and protecting special category data, which is highly sensitive personal information that requires extra care and attention during processing.
Understanding the GDPR Special Category Data
Special categories of personal data encompass particularly sensitive information that requires additional protection under the GDPR, reflecting a substantial public interest in safeguarding such data. This subset of personal data necessitates heightened security, conditions, and safeguards due to its sensitive nature.
Examples of special category data
- Data concerning health
- Religious beliefs
- Political opinions
- Trade union membership
- Life or Sexual orientation
- Genetic data, Biometric data
- Biometric data revealing racial or ethnic origin
The importance of GDPR special category data
- Legal Requirements and Fines: businesses must adhere to additional GDPR regulations when handling special category data. Serious fines and legal action may be imposed for non-compliance. Fines can be up to 4% of the business's global annual revenue or 20 million euros, whichever is greater.
- Ethical Considerations: the handling of special category data presents ethical concerns, such as ensuring that data is processed equitably, transparently, and with the full agreement of the data subject. To protect individual rights and privacy, businesses must take extra care while handling sensitive data.
- Reputation and Trust: handling special category data correctly can help businesses establish trust and reputation with their customers. Consumers are more inclined to trust companies that value data privacy and exercise special caution when handling sensitive information.
How to Handle GDPR Special Category Data
Consent and Explicit Consent
- Businesses must obtain explicit consent from individuals before processing their special category data. To obtain someone's explicit consent, businesses must inform the person of the types of data being collected, the purposes of collecting it, and the individuals who will have access to it.
- Businesses must limit the collection, processing, and storage of special category data to a specific purpose. This implies that businesses cannot use the data for other purposes without receiving explicit authorization.
- Businesses should only collect and process the minimum amount of special category data necessary to achieve the specific purpose.
- Businesses should only retain special category data for the duration required to fulfil the specific purpose. After businesses have achieved their intended purpose, they must erase or anonymize the data.
- While handling and storing special category data, businesses must exercise extreme caution. Also, to guarantee the security and confidentiality of the data, they must adopt the necessary technical and organizational procedures. This includes the use of access limits, encryption, and frequent backups.
Data Subject Rights
- When it comes to their personal data under a particular category, individuals have additional rights. Specifically, individuals have the right to access, modify, delete, and limit how their data is processed. Moreover, businesses have one month to respond to these requests; failing to do so could result in penalties and legal action.
To conclude, processing special category data requires particular caution and attention. This type of data contains highly sensitive personal information that requires even more protection under GDPR regulations. Therefore, businesses must adhere to these regulations and take ethical concerns into consideration when processing and storing this type of data. By correctly handling special category data, companies can build client confidence and maintain their reputation.
Last updated: April 6, 2023