European Union: A GDPR Update for Employers, Part IV: Implementing Lessons Learned From GDPR Complaints And Enforcement Actions

Much has happened since the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25, 2018. Many EU countries have enacted national legislation to implement and expand the requirements of the GDPR, while other developments have directly affected employers and created new obligations regarding the collection and processing of human resources (HR) data.

This is the final article in a four-part series that has examined the national legislation, opinions, and guidelines that have been enacted or issued clarifying the GDPR's requirements. Part one addressed threshold issues of GDPR coverage. Part two focused on additional data protection requirements imposed by individual EU Member States implementing the GDPR. Part three analyzed the criteria for conducting required data protection impact assessments of processing activities.

The fourth and final part of the series addresses GDPR enforcement efforts and steps employers may want to take with respect to their collection and processing of HR data.

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and EU supervisory authorities have reported that they have received a large number of complaints during the first six months following the effective date of the GDPR. For example, the EDPB reported that it had received more than 42,000 complaints since May 25, 2018. The French Supervisory Authority (CNIL) reported a 20 percent increase in complaints filed during the first six months the GDPR was effective compared to the same period in 2017. Similarly, the Irish Supervisory Authority reported a 50 percent increase in data breach reports and a 65 percent increase in data protection complaints over the same period. The Irish Data Protection Commissioner also stated that several investigations of multijurisdictional complaints against large companies are being completed and that she expects major GDPR fines to be issued in 2019.

Additionally, supervisory authorities in the following countries issued the first fines for GDPR violations:

Portugal: In June 2018, after conducting an inspection of a hospital based on a newspaper article that outlined potential violations of the GDPR by the hospital, the Portuguese Supervisory Authority issued a €400,000 fine against the hospital for three GDPR violations. First, the hospital had violated the GDPR's data minimization requirement by permitting several staff members to have access to patient data for which they did not need access in order to perform their jobs. Second, the hospital failed to implement and document appropriate data access and data security procedures. Third, the hospital failed to implement technical and organizational measures generally to ensure a level of security adequate to the risk, including a process to regularly test, assess, and evaluate the technical and organizational measures to ensure the security of the processing.

Austria: In October 2018, the Austrian Supervisory Authority issued a €4,800 fine against a small company that had installed a closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance camera in front of its facility that not only recorded individuals entering the facility but also recorded individuals who passed by on the public sidewalk. The Austrian Supervisory Authority found that the recording of the individuals on the public sidewalk violated the GDPR because the company did not have a legitimate interest in recording individuals in public spaces and the company did not provide proper notification of the surveillance through appropriate signage. The Austrian Supervisory Authority determined the amount of the fine based upon the company's financial resources, thereby demonstrating the Supervisory Authority's willingness to enforce the GDPR and impose fines against companies of any size.

Germany: In November 2018, the State Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information Baden-Württemberg (LfDI) imposed a €20,000 fine against a social media company for data security violations in connection with a data breach. The company reported that over 800,000 email addresses and passwords of users had been hacked. Alerted to the unauthorized disclosure of personal data, the company timely reported the incident to the LfDI and informed the affected users about the breach.

The LfDI's investigation of the data breach revealed that the company had stored user passwords in an unencrypted format. Therefore, the LfDI found that the company had violated Article 32(1)(a) of the GDPR, which requires data controllers to implement data security measures, including the pseudonymization and encryption of personal data, as appropriate.

The €20,000 fine imposed by the LfDI was well below the GDPR's maximum allowable fine for the infringement (€10 million or up to 2 percent of an organization's worldwide annual revenue from the prior financial year, whichever is higher). The LfDI indicated that it had credited the company for timely contacting the LtDI, notifying affected users, cooperating with the investigation, and investing approximately €100,000 to make improvements in its data security measures.

Further, several supervisory authorities have announced or engaged in aggressive enforcement activities. For example, in June 2018, the Supervisory Authority for the German State of Lower Saxony sent comprehensive questionnaires to several mid-size and large businesses requesting the companies submit their Article 30 records of processing, privacy notices, data protection impact assessments, data processor agreements, and data breach notification procedures to the Supervisory Authority for review.

In November 2018, the Supervisory Authority of the State of Bavaria announced that it was intensifying its compliance monitoring of major companies to determine compliance with GDPR data security requirements with a focus on preventing data breaches and compliance with Article 30 record of processing requirements.

France: In July 2018, the CNIL announced that it would conduct 300 predawn raids on businesses, either on-site or online, to enforce the GDPR.

In January 2019, the CNIL issued a €50,000,000 fine against a major U.S. technology company for violating the transparency and consent requirements under the GDPR.  Specifically, the CNIL found that users did not have easy access to relevant information on the company's website because the information was spread over several documents that were accessible only in multi-stage processes. In addition, the information provided was not always clear and understandable and, therefore, users could not understand the extent of the data processing operations carried out by the service.  Thus, user consent had not been specifically and unambiguously obtained.

The Netherlands: Also in July 2018, the Dutch Supervisory Authority reported that it had begun ex officio investigations of 30 random companies to determine their compliance with Article 30 of the GDPR, which requires organizations to maintain detailed records of processing activities.

GDPR enforcement activities have not been confined to EU supervisory authorities. In August 2018, a shareholder of a major U.S. media company filed a class action lawsuit against the company alleging that the company had made misleading statements regarding its preparedness for the GDPR and the impact that the GDPR would have on its business, thereby violating U.S. securities law.

Based on these enforcement activities, it is apparent that EU supervisory authorities are focusing on compliance with the internal technical and accountability requirements of the GDPR. Thus, employers should consider taking the following steps:

  • Preparing or reviewing the organization's Article 30 record of processing for HR data to make sure it is complete and updated
  • Preparing, reviewing, and updating policies and procedures regarding data security measures, including data access controls, and data breach notification procedures
  • Preparing or reviewing the use of data processors and ensuring data processor agreements are in place.

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
In association with
Practice Guides
by Mondaq Advice Centers
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please 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