European Union: WP29 Published The Guidelines On Transparency

Last Updated: 26 April 2018
Article by ICT Legal Consulting


On 12th December 2017, the Article 29 Working Party ("WP29") published the draft Guidelines on transparency under the General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (respectively, "Guidelines" and "GDPR"). The Guidelines at stake were published with the related draft Guidelines on Consent, inviting comments to be submitted for both of them by 23rd January 2018.

Transparency is an overarching obligation under the GDPR, intrinsically linked to the new principle of accountability and to the principle of fairness, all in relation to the processing of personal data expressed in Article 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

The concept of transparency is not defined in the GDPR, however Recital 39 of the GDPR is informative as to the meaning and effect of this principle which "[...] requires that any information and communication relating to the processing of those personal data [shall] be easily accessible and easy to understand, and that clear and plain language [is] used. [...] ".

Main issues

The Guidelines are developed to help data controllers understand how to structure and draft their privacy notices and equivalent documents. Article 12 of the GDPR sets out the general rules, which must be applied to the provision of information to data subjects (under Articles 13 and 14), the communications towards data subjects concerning the exercise of their rights (under Articles 15 – 22), and the communications in relation to data breaches (Article 34).

As required by Article 12 of the GDPR and further explained in the Guidelines, information must be:

  • concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible. Information must be presented efficiently and succinctly in a way that is clearly differentiated from non-privacy information and in an online context, use layering and ensure the information is clearly sign-posted; this means that the data subject should immediately become aware of where the relevant information can be found, avoiding information fatigue;
  • in a clear and plain language, especially when providing information to children/minors. No complex, ambivalent or technical sentences should be used (terms such as "may", "might" and "some" should be avoided). The data controller should ensure the vocabulary, tone and style of language used is appropriate for children and other vulnerable members of society, including people with disabilities;
  • in writing or by other means, including electronic means where appropriate. The WP29 notes that in an online context, "other means" may include the use of techniques such as "just in time" contextual pop-up notices, 3D touch or hover-over notices, and privacy dashboards. Information can also be provided in combination with standardised icons, potentially reducing the need for vast amounts of written information to be presented to a data subject. Moreover, video or voice alerts, cartoons, infographics or flowcharts, may also be appropriate in particular circumstances.
  • provided orally, where requested by the data subject. Oral information may be face-to-face, over the telephone, or similar, and may involve automation (WP29 recommends that data controller should allow the data subject to re-listen pre-recorded messages). Where the information provided is in response to the exercise of a data subject's rights, the data controller is required to verify the identity of the individual by non-oral means, to ensure appropriate security, and must be able to demonstrate respectively.
  • provided free of charge.

The Guidelines clarify that in order to help identify the most appropriate modality for providing the information, in advance of "going live", data controllers may wish to have a trial period for different modalities by a way of user-testing to seek feedback on how accessible, understandable and easy to use the proposed measure is.

As regards to timing of the provision of information, WP29 observes that "[...] providing it in a timely manner is a vital element of the transparency obligation and the obligation to process data fairly [...]". Under Article 13 of the GDPR, which applies to the scenario where the data is collected directly from the data subject, information must be provided at the time when personal data are obtained.

In case of indirectly obtained personal data, under Article 14 of the GDPR, the general requirement is that information must be provided within a reasonable period after obtaining the personal data and no later than one month.

The GDPR allows for strict exceptions to the obligation of providing data subjects with a privacy notice. The only exception to this obligation, for personal data obtained directly from the data subject (Article 13(4)), occurs "where and insofar as the data subject already has the information". Where information is obtained indirectly, the GDPR carves out a much broader set of exceptions, in particular when: the provision of information would involve disproportionate effort (Article 14(5 ) (b)); the data controller is subject to a national law or EU law requirement to obtain or disclose the personal data (Article 14(5 )(c)); the personal data must remain confidential subject to an obligation of professional secrecy regulated by national law or EU law, including a statutory obligation of secrecy (Article 14(5 )(d)).

The GDPR provides, pursuant to Article 23, for further exceptions to be built into national legislations complementing those of the GDPR, but the Guidelines make it clear that when relying on such exceptions, data controllers should inform data subjects of this, unless doing so would prejudice the purpose of the exception.

Finally, the WP29 also provide a schedule at the end of the Guidelines, summarising the categories of information that must be provided under Articles 13 and 14 of the GDPR.

Practical implications

In order to fully comply with the obligation of transparency controllers should:

  • review their privacy notices, spelling out not just the scope but also the consequences of processing in unambiguous language;
  • remove from their privacy notices any generic and doubtful reference to the purpose of the processing, avoiding use of language qualifiers such as "may", "might", "some", "often" and "possible";
  • identify the intended or likely audience, ascertain the average audience member's level of understanding and, if necessary, modify the information and the other privacy documents in order to make the information intelligible and understandable by the intended audience;
  • verify the language currently adopted when processing the data of children or vulnerable persons, ensuring that the vocabulary, tone and style of the language used is appropriate;
  • take all measures necessary to ensure that any relevant change to their privacy notices will be communicated in advance of the change actually taking effect and in such a way that ensures that most recipients will actually notice the amendment;
  • verify what information the data subject already has, how and when they received it and that no changes have occurred since then, rendering that information out of date.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
LCA Studio Legale
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
LCA Studio Legale
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions