Directive 95/46/EC

Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data

Published under Risk Management
Title: Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (the ‘Privacy Directive’)
Source reference:
Topic: Generic personal data processing
Direct / indirect relevance Direct. The text directly prescribes an obligation to assess security measures with regard to data processing and to take the required security precautions.
Scope: Directly applicable to all EU Member States
Legal force: EU Directive, requires transposition into national law
Affected sectors: All sectors involved in personal data processing (including public sector, finance, health services, commerce, telecommunications, security management, etc.)
Relevant provision(s): Article 17 - Security of processing

1. Member States shall provide that the controller must implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect personal data against accidental or unlawful destruction or accidental loss, alteration, unauthorized disclosure or access, in particular where the processing involves the transmission of data over a network, and against all other unlawful forms of processing.

Having regard to the state of the art and the cost of their implementation, such measures shall ensure a level of security appropriate to the risks represented by the processing and the nature of the data to be protected.

2. The Member States shall provide that the controller must, where processing is carried out on his behalf, choose a processor providing sufficient guarantees in respect of the technical security measures and organizational measures governing the processing to be carried out, and must ensure compliance with those measures.

3. The carrying out of processing by way of a processor must be governed by a contract or legal act binding the processor to the controller and stipulating in particular that:

- the processor shall act only on instructions from the controller,

- the obligations set out in paragraph 1, as defined by the law of the Member State in which the processor is established, shall also be incumbent on the processor.

4. For the purposes of keeping proof, the parts of the contract or the legal act relating to data protection and the requirements relating to the measures referred to in paragraph 1 shall be in writing or in another equivalent form.

Article 19 - Contents of notification

1. Member States shall specify the information to be given in the notification. It shall include at least:


(f) a general description allowing a preliminary assessment to be made of the appropriateness of the measures taken pursuant to Article 17 to ensure security of processing.



Article 25 - Principles

1. The Member States shall provide that the transfer to a third country of personal data which are undergoing processing or are intended for processing after transfer may take place only if, without prejudice to compliance with the national provisions adopted pursuant to the other provisions of this Directive, the third country in question ensures an adequate level of protection.

2. The adequacy of the level of protection afforded by a third country shall be assessed in the light of all the circumstances surrounding a data transfer operation or set of data transfer operations; particular consideration shall be given to the nature of the data, the purpose and duration of the proposed processing operation or operations, the country of origin and country of final destination, the rules of law, both general and sectoral, in force in the third country in question and the professional rules and security measures which are complied with in that country.

Relevance to RM/RA: The cited articles require that any personal data processing activity:

• undergoes a prior risk analysis in order to determine the privacy implications of the activity, and to determine the appropriate legal, technical and organisation measures to protect such activities;
• is effectively protected by such measures, which must be state of the art keeping into account the sensitivity and privacy implications of the activity (including when a third party is charged with the processing task)
• is notified to a national data protection authority, including the measures taken to ensure the security of the activity.

Furthermore, article 25 and following of the Directive requires Member States to ban the transfer of personal data to non-Member States, unless such countries have provided adequate legal protection for such personal data, or barring certain other exceptions.


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