Bulgaria: GDPR Basics Part 1: Principles Of Personal Data Processing

Last Updated: 28 December 2017
Article by Dragomir Stefanov

The newly revised EU legal framework in the field of personal data protection (GDPR) has already made the processing of personal data an increasingly important topic for businesses operating in the territories of EU member states.

With the objective to strengthen citizens' fundamental rights in the digital age and to simplify procedures for companies, the GDPR will also introduce fines for illegal personal data collection and processing that will be significantly higher than the currently effective fines. The fines, depending on the relevant circumstances, may reach up to 4% of the total worldwide annual turnover  of an undertaking  or EUR 20,000,000, whichever amount is higher.

We have summarized below the most important principles of personal data protection set out in GDPR. Any processing of personal data which is incompatible with any of the principles would be unlawful (unless an exemption or derogation applies).

  1. Personal data must be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner

This is the most general principle of personal data processing according to which data controllers must always, inter alia, collect and process personal data on legitimate legal grounds; not use the data for unjustified purposes or in a way which would not be reasonably expected by the data subjects and adopt a transparent approach towards data subject allowing them to fully benefit from their rights under the GDPR (please stay tuned since more information on the rights of data subjects under the GDPR will follow shortly).

  1. Personal data must be collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes

Companies process personal data on a daily basis for various purposes: in order to comply with statutory or contractual reporting obligations, in corporate documents, commercial relations with suppliers and customers, assignment and collection of receivables, for security reasons (e.g. video surveillance), online tracking of consumers' preferences, webpage administration, etc. In all cases, any personal data must be processed diligently and in accordance with the initial purposes for its collection.

In practice, it is often a fine line between compatibility and incompatibility with the initial purpose of the data processing. As an example, according to the Bulgarian Personal Data Protection Commission and the competent national court (the Supreme Administrative Court) a written revocation of a power of attorney specifying a former employee's personal data details (such as Personal Identity Numbers) sent to customers constitutes a disproportionate processing, which is not related to the initial purpose for the collection of such data.

Under the GDPR, the compatibility of any further processing with the initial purposes is determined by, inter alia, the link between the initial and the subsequent purposes, the reasonable expectations of the data subjects, based on their relationship with the controller, as to the further use of their personal data, the nature of such personal data, the consequences of any further processing for the data subjects, etc.

The management of data subjects' expectations would be achieved easily with transparent privacy policies based on clear and frequent communication of privacy notices to data subjects. In any case of doubt, however, companies should seek for a new legal basis for any new processing activities (e.g. a purpose-specific consent).

  1. Collect and process only personal data, which is adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary

Companies must always be aware of what type of personal data and in what amount is needed in each specific case (contracts, employment related documents, invoices, corporate documents in public registers etc.). It is important to stay updated on the current legislation and review any internal processes for data collection in order to avoid processing of personal data which goes beyond its purpose.

Processing of personal data must be limited to what is necessary not only in scope, but also in time. Any personal data, which no longer serves the purpose/s for its collection must be deleted securely. The retention of such data may lead to other inconveniences such as the risk of it becoming inaccurate or outdated (see it. 4), the obligation to store such data securely (see it. 5), etc.

  1. Accuracy of personal data

Data controllers must process personal data, which is accurate and, where necessary, has been kept current and up to date. Every reasonable action must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they have been processed, be erased or rectified without delay. Internal assessment of whether the personal data processed is up-to-date is thus necessary.

It is worth noting that the GDPR does not apply to personal data of deceased persons. Member States may, however, provide for rules regarding the processing of personal data of deceased persons. Data controllers must mind that pursuant to the Bulgarian Personal Data Protection Act the successors of a deceased person have certain rights as, for example, the right to be informed (free of charge) whether any personal data of the deceased is being processed, the purposes of such processing, and so on.

  1. Data security

Personal data must be processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures. The adequacy of the security systems and methods used by data controllers depends on the circumstances of each specific case (including without limitation the nature of the personal data and the harm from its potential misuse, or the use/transfer of such information within or outside the company). Normally IT expertise should be involved in the assessment and implementation process with respect to electronically processed personal data.

Under the GDPR data breaches must be communicated without undue delay: (i) to the data subjects, where the personal data breach is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of the natural person in order to allow him or her to take the necessary precautions, and (ii) to the national supervisory authority unless the personal data breach is unlikely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals. Ideally data controllers would develop appropriate internal action plans in cases of personal data breaches to ensure timely and adequate reaction.

  1. What is new?

The comparison between the principles set out in Directive 95/46/EC and in the GDPR shows that, contrary to other aspects of data protection, for the most part those principles would remain unchanged. Additional organisational and administrative burden is imposed on data controllers with the broader definition of the accountability principle, which now requires from data controllers not only to comply, but also to be able to demonstrate, when required to, their compliance with the data protection principles. This may include adoption of internal policies and rules for personal data processing, conduct of employee trainings, appointment of dedicated, expert data protection officer/s (where relevant), etc. All companies with more than 250 employees would be required to keep records of their processing activities and such records may be requested periodically for review by the national data protection authorities.

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 Mondaq.com.

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

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”

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
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

    Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of www.mondaq.com

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

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