Data Protected - Greece

Contributed by Karageorgiou & Associates Law Firm

Last updated June 2018

General | Data Protection Laws

National Legislation
National Supervisory Authority
Scope of Application
Personal Data
Sensitive Personal Data
Data Protection Officers
Accountability and Privacy Impact Assessments
Rights of Data Subjects
Security
Transfer of Personal Data to Third Countries
Enforcement

ePrivacy | Marketing and cookies

National Legislation
Cookies
Marketing by E-mail
Marketing by Telephone

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General | Data Protection Laws

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National Legislation

General data protection laws

The General Data Protection Regulation (EU) (2016/679)(“GDPR”).

Greece has not yet issued a national law implementing the GDPR. A public consultation on the new law was completed on 5 March 2018 but has not yet been submitted to the Greek Parliament.

Greece is currently subject to Law 2472/1997 (as amended by Laws 3471/2006, 3783/2009, 3947/2011, 4024/2011, 4070/2012 and 4139/2013), which implements the Data Protection Directive, until 25 May 2018. That law is not considered in this summary, though it is summarised in the last edition of Data Protected, available here.

Entry into force

The GDPR applies from 25 May 2018.

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National Supervisory Authority

Details of the competent national supervisory authority

The current Data Protection Authority will continue to act as the supervisory authority in Greece.

Data Protection Authority (the “Authority”)
1-3 Kifisias Avenue
Athens

www.dpa.gr

The Data Protection Authority will represent Greece on the European Data Protection Board.

Notification or registration scheme and timing

There is no obligation to notify regulators of any processing under the GDPR. 

Exemptions to notification

Not applicable.

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Scope of Application

What is the territorial scope of application?

The GDPR applies the processing of personal data in the context of the establishment of a controller or processor in the EU.

It also contains express extra-territorial provisions and will apply to controllers or processors based outside the EU that: (i) offer goods or services to individuals in the EU; or (ii) monitor individuals within the EU. Controllers and processors caught by these provisions will need to appoint a representative in the EU, subject to certain limited exemptions.

Is there a concept of a controller and processor?

Yes. The GDPR contains the concept of a controller, who determines the purpose and means of processing, and a processor, who just processes personal data on behalf of the controller.

Both controllers and processors are subject to the rules in the GDPR, but the obligations placed on processors are more limited. 

Are both manual and electronic records subject to data protection legislation?

Yes. The GDPR applies to both electronic records and structured hard copy records.

Are there any national derogations?

The GDPR does not apply to law enforcement activities which are instead subject to the Law Enforcement Directive. The GDPR also does not apply to areas of law that are outside the scope of Union law, such as national security, and does not apply to purely personal or household activity.

It is not clear whether the law implementing the GDPR in Greece will introduce any national derogations.

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Personal Data

What is personal data?

Personal data is information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person.

This is a broad term and includes a wide range of information. The GDPR expressly states it includes online identifiers such as IP addresses and cookie identifiers.

Is information about legal entities personal data?

No. However, information about sole traders and partnerships is likely to be personal data.

What are the rules for processing personal data?

All processing of personal data must comply with all six general data quality principles. Personal data must be: (a) processed fairly and lawfully; (b) collected for specific, explicit and legitimate purposes and not processed in a manner incompatible with those purposes; (c) adequate, relevant and not excessive; (d) accurate and, where necessary, up to date; (e) kept in an identifiable form for no longer than necessary; and (f) kept secure.

The processing of personal data must also satisfy at least one condition for processing personal data. These conditions are that the processing is: (a) carried out with the data subject’s consent; (b) necessary for the performance of a contract with the data subject; (c) necessary for compliance with a legal obligation; (d) necessary in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject; (e) necessary for the public interest or in the exercise of official authority; or (f) necessary for the controller’s or recipient’s legitimate interests, except where overridden by the interests of the data subject.

These rules are almost identical to the core requirements for processing personal data in the Data Protection Directive.

Are there any formalities to obtain consent to process personal data?

Obtaining consent will become much harder under the GDPR. 

To be valid, consent must be in clear and plain language and, where sought in writing, separate from other matters. Consent must be based on affirmative action so pre-ticked boxes are not acceptable. Consent might not be valid if: (i) there is any detriment to the data subject for refusing; (ii) there is an imbalance of power; (iii) consent for multiple purposes is bundled together; or (iv) the consent is a condition of entering into a contract. Finally, consent can be withdrawn at any time.

In practice, other processing conditions should be relied on where possible. Consent will only be an appropriate processing condition if the individual has a genuine choice over the matter, for example, whether to be sent marketing materials. 

The Article 29 Working Party has issued Guidelines on Consent (WP259).

Are there any special rules when processing personal data about children?

Consent from a child in relation to online services will only be valid if authorised by a parent. A child is someone under 16 years old, though Member States may reduce this age to 13.

In Greece, the age at which a child can provide a valid consent to online services will be defined by the law implementing the GDPR, when it is issued.

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Sensitive Personal Data

What is sensitive personal data?

Sensitive personal data is personal data consisting of racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership, genetic data, biometric data, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person’s sex life or sexual orientation.

The inclusion of genetic and biometric data is new and an extension to the types of sensitive personal data in the Data Protection Directive.
Information about criminal offences is dealt with separately and is subject to even tighter controls.

Are there additional rules for processing sensitive personal data?

Sensitive personal data may only be processed if a condition for processing sensitive personal data is satisfied. A condition arises where the processing: (a) is carried out with the data subject’s explicit consent; (b) is necessary for a legal obligation in the field of employment law; (c) is necessary to protect the vital interests of the data subject or another person where the data subject is unable to give consent; (d) is carried out by a non-profit-seeking body and relates to members of that body or persons who have regular contact; (e) relates to data made public by the data subject; (f) is necessary for legal claims; (g) is for reasons of substantial public interest under EU or Member State law; (h) is necessary for healthcare reasons; (i) is necessary for public health reasons; or (j) is necessary for archiving, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes and is based on EU or Member State law.

According to Law 2472/1997, personal data concerning social welfare is considered to be sensitive data. This will no longer be the case when the GDPR comes into force. Currently, all lawful processing of sensitive data requires the prior permission from the Authority subject to certain exceptions set out in Law 2472/1997. We understand that under the draft law, prior Authority permission will only be required to process genetic and biometric data.

Are there additional rules for processing information about criminal offences?

It is only possible to process information about criminal convictions or offences if: (a) it is carried out under the control of official authority; or (b) when the processing is authorised by EU or Member State law.

The specific national conditions that can be relied upon to process information about criminal offences are not clear as the law implementing the GDPR has not been issued yet.

Are there any formalities to obtain consent to process sensitive personal data?

Consent to process sensitive personal data must be explicit. The general restrictions on consent, set out above, will also apply. This suggests a degree of formality, such as ticking a box containing the express words “I consent”. It is unlikely explicit consent could be obtained through a course of conduct.

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Data Protection Officers

When must a data protection officer be appointed?

Both controllers and processors must appoint a data protection officer if: (i) they are a public authority; (ii) their core activities consist of regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale; or (iii) their core activities consist of processing sensitive personal data on a large scale (including processing information about criminal offences).

There is no indication that there will be any additional mandatory obligations to appoint data protection officers in Greece.

What are the duties of the data protection officer?

The data protection officer must be involved in all data protection issues and cannot be dismissed or penalised for performing their role. The data protection officer must report directly to the highest level of management. 

The Article 29 Working Party has issued Guidelines on Data Protection Officers (WP243).

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Accountability and Privacy Impact Assessments

Is there a general accountability obligation?

The GDPR adds a new general accountability obligation under which you must not only comply with these new rules, but also be able to demonstrate you comply with them. This means ensuring suitable policies are in place supported by audit and training.

Are privacy impact assessments mandatory?

A privacy impact assessment must be conducted where “high risk” processing is carried out. This includes: (a) systematic and extensive profiling that produces legal effects or significantly affects individuals; (b) processing sensitive personal data on a large scale; and (c) systematic monitoring of a publicly accessible area on a large scale (e.g. CCTV).

The Article 29 Working Party has subsequently issued Guidelines on Data Protection Impact Assessments (WP 248). It suggests there are nine criteria to consider to determine whether to conduct a privacy impact assessment, and that an assessment should be made if two or more of those criteria are met. This is arguably wider than the criteria set out in the paragraph above. 

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Rights of Data Subjects

Privacy notices

A controller must provide data subjects with a privacy notice setting out how the individual’s personal data will be processed. The privacy notice must contain the enhanced transparency information.

The Article 29 Working Party has issued Guidelines on Transparency (WP260).

In Greece, the position on the language of privacy notices is yet to be determined.

Rights to access information

Data subjects will have a right to access copies of their personal data by making a written request to the controller. The initial request is free, though a charge can be made for subsequent requests. Controllers can refuse the request if it is manifestly unfounded or excessive. The response must be provided within a month, though this can be extended by two months if the request is complex. 

Rights to data portability

Data subjects will also have a right to data portability where the condition for processing personal data is consent or the performance of a contract. It entitles individuals to obtain any personal data they have “provided” to the controller in a machine-readable format. Individuals can also ask for the data to be transferred directly from one controller to another. There is no right to charge fees for this service.

The Article 29 Working Party has issued Guidelines on data portability (WP242).

Right to be forgotten

A data subject can ask that their data be deleted in certain circumstances. However, those circumstances are relatively limited, for example where the processing is based on consent, that consent is withdrawn and there are no other grounds for processing. Even where the right does arise, there are range of exemptions, for example where there is a legal obligation to retain the data. 

Objection to direct marketing

A data subject can object to their personal data being processed for direct marketing purposes at any time. This includes the processing of their personal data for profiling purposes.

Other rights

The GDPR contains a range of other rights, including a right to have inaccurate data corrected. There is also a right to object to processing being carried out in the performance of a public task or under the legitimate interests condition.

Finally, there are controls on taking decisions based solely on automated decision making that produce legal effects or similarly significantly affects the data subject. The Article 29 Working Party has issued Guidelines on Automated Decision Making and Profiling (WP251).

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Security

Security requirements in order to protect personal data

The GDPR contains a general obligation to implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to protect personal data.

In addition, controllers and processors must ensure, where appropriate: (i) the pseudonymisation and encryption of personal data; (ii) the ability to ensure the ongoing confidentiality, integrity, availability and resilience of its information technology systems; (iii) the ability to restore the availability and access to personal data in a timely manner in the event of a physical or technical incident; and (iv) a process for regularly testing, assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of technical and organisational measures for ensuring the security of the processing. 

Specific rules governing processing by third party agents (processors)

A controller must ensure that any processor it instructs will ensure adequate security for personal data and otherwise meet the requirements of the GDPR.

The controller must have written contracts with its processor containing the enhanced processor clauses.

Notice of breach laws

A personal data breach must be notified to the relevant supervisory authority unless it is unlikely to result in a risk to data subjects. The notification must, where feasible, be made within 72 hours. If the personal data breach is a high risk for data subjects, those data subjects must also be notified. 

The Article 29 Working Party has issued Guidelines on Personal Data Breach Notification (WP250).

Specific notice of breach laws apply to the electronic communications sector under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive

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Transfer of Personal Data to Third Countries

Restrictions on transfers to third countries

The GDPR contains a restriction on transborder dataflows. Transfers can take place if it: (i) is to a whitelisted country; (ii) is made pursuant to a set of Model Contracts; (ii) is made pursuant to binding corporate rules; (iv) is made to an importer who has signed up to an approved code or obtained an approved certification; or (v) is otherwise approved by the relevant supervisory authority.

Transfers are also possible if an individual derogation applies. These derogations allow a transfer if it: (i) is made with the data subject’s explicit consent; (ii) is necessary for the performance of a contract with, or in the interests of, the data subject; (iii) is necessary or legally required on important public interest grounds, or for legal claims; (iv) is necessary to protect the vital interests of the data subject; (v) is made from a public register; or (vi) is made under the so-called minor transfer exemption.

The position is broadly the same as under the Data Protection Directive. One notable change is the introduction of the so-called minor transfer exemption, though that exemption will be very hard to rely on in practice.

The European Data Protection Board has issued Guidelines on derogations applicable to international transfers (2/2018).

Notification and approval of national regulator (including notification of use of Model Contracts)

In general, there is no need for prior approval from a supervisory authority. However, this depends on the justification for the transfer. 

For example, there will be no obligation to get approval for the use of Model Contracts (though it is possible some supervisory authorities may want to be notified of their use). In contrast, it will be necessary to get approval to rely on binding corporate rules, and the supervisory authority must be informed of transfers made using the minor transfers exemption.

Use of binding corporate rules

The GDPR places binding corporate rules on a statutory footing. It will be possible to obtain authorisation from one supervisory authority that will cover transfers from anywhere in the EU.

Under the current legal framework in Greece, the list of binding corporate rules that have been approved includes AstraZeneca S.A., First Data Hellas S.A. and D. Man S.A..

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Enforcement

Fines

The GDPR is intended to make data protection a boardroom issue. It introduces an antitrust-type sanction regime with fines of up to 4% of annual worldwide turnover or €20m, whichever is the greater. These fines apply to breaches of many of the provisions of the GDPR, including failure to comply with the six general data quality principles or carrying out processing without satisfying a condition for processing personal data.

A limited number of breaches fall into a lower tier and so are subject to fines of up to 2% of annual worldwide turnover or €10m, whichever is the greater. Failing to notify a personal data breach or failing to put an adequate contract in place with a processor fall into this lower tier.

The Article 29 Working Party has issued Guidelines on administrative fines (WP253).

Imprisonment

Greece has not indicated the details of potential criminal offences and imprisonment as the implementing law has not been issued yet.

Compensation

Data subjects have a right to compensation in respect of material and non-material damage.

Other powers

Regulators will have a range of other powers and sanctions at their disposal. This includes investigative powers, such as the ability to demand information from controllers and processors, and to carry out audits. They will also have corrective powers enabling them to issue warnings or reprimands, to enforce an individual’s rights and to issue a temporary or permanent ban on processing. 

Practice

In Greece, there is no current enforcement practice in relation to the GDPR. However, the enforcement of the current law is instructive.

According to official Authority statistics, in 2016, there were 3,015 appeals, complaints, queries and notifications related to processing (9% more than in 2015) of which 132 cases were examined by the Plenary Session / Division. 8 opinions were issued by the Authority. The most important of these concerned the: (i) conditions for the legal registration of subscribers; (ii) transmission of data from the General Secretariat of Public Revenues to the Hellenic Statistical Authority; (iii) legal obligation of pharmaceutical companies to publicise all funding to medical doctors (e.g. conferences, trips etc.); (iv) record-keeping of private donations to political parties; and (v) the operation of online surgery list of hospitals.

The Authority examined 634 appeals and complaints and 1,115 inquiries from controllers or citizens about the lawfulness of a particular processing or the application of the relevant legislation. The Authority also investigated 1,356 notification cases about filing and processing operations. 625 of these concerned the installation and operation of CCTV systems. The Authority granted or renewed 170 licences to maintain sensitive data files and 9 permits to transfer data to third countries. This included 14 cases concerning access and objections to the Schengen Information System. Furthermore, in 2016 the Authority carried out three audits.

In 21 of its decisions the Authority imposed sanctions on controllers and/or processors. In 14 cases the sanction imposed was a warning (a recommendation for compliance) and in 7 cases, fines were imposed ranging from €1,000 to €28,000. In total, fines amounting to €93,000 were imposed.

No official data is currently available for Authority activity in 2017 as the Authority’s annual report will be published in 2018. However, information available on the Authority’s website suggests that the most important opinions issued by the authority in 2017 concerned the: (i) restructuring of the transport system in Athens and the processing of personal data required by the introduction of electronic ticketing; (ii) conditions of placing a camera at the entrance of an apartment building solely for the purpose of protecting the persons residing or working in it, as well as the property of the residents; and (iii) online disclosure of debtors of overdue payments to the social security institutions.

In 8 cases the Authority imposed fines ranging from €1,000 to €75,000 mostly for spamming or non-timely fulfilment of a data subject’s right to access his/her own data. Fines imposed to date in 2017 amount to €129,000.

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ePrivacy | Marketing and cookies

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National Legislation

ePrivacy laws

Law 3471/2006 (G.G. 133A’/28.06.06) under the title “Protection of privacy and personal data in the telecommunications sector” (the “Law”) implemented the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive and was subsequently amended by Law 3783/2009 (G.G. 136/0A’/07.08.09) and Law 4070/2012 (G.G. Α-82/10.04.2012).

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Cookies

Conditions for use of cookies

Under Law 3471/2006 (as amended by Law 4070/2012) cookies (or similar technologies) can be used to store information or gain access to information stored in the technical equipment of the subscriber/user on condition that he/she has given his/her consent, having being provided with clear and comprehensive information about cookie use.

The Law recognises the possibility of obtaining consent via browser or other application settings.

Exceptionally, consent is not required for technical storage or access for the sole purpose or carrying out the transmission or a communication through an electronic communication network, or when strictly necessary for the provision of information society services explicitly requested by the subscriber/user (“Cookie Consent Exemption”).

Regulatory guidance on the use of cookies

The Authority clarifies that, if consent is obtained via browser or other application settings, the data subject’s consent should be requested for every single cookie to be installed and a general and abstract consent to all cookies provided by the data subject a priori via browser or other application settings is not valid.

The Authority follows the Article 29 Working Party Opinion 4/2012 on Cookie Consent Exemption with regard to session cookies, persistent cookies, authentication cookies, social plug-in content cookies etc.

Furthermore the Authority clarifies that cookies installed for the purpose of online advertising are expressly exempted from the Cookie Consent Exemption and the data subject should explicitly provide his/her consent for installation of both ‘first party cookies’ and ‘third party cookies’.

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Marketing by E-mail

Conditions for direct marketing by e-mail to individual subscribers

Under Law 3471/2006, it is not permitted to transmit unsolicited direct marketing of goods or services through e-mail unless the recipient has previously notified the sender that he/she consents to such communications being sent by the sender. However, the law provides that unsolicited communication is overall prohibited towards a natural or a legal person that has registered to so-called “opt-out registers”.

Under Directive 2/2011 of the Authority, subscribers/users can provide their consent in writing or by electronic means. When consent is provided by electronic means the “double opt-out procedure” should be followed. Once subscribers/users have provided their consent to receiving e-mails for marketing purposes, the controller should confirm that such consent has actually been provided. The controller should therefore send a request for confirmation to the subscriber/user who must take some action to confirm that he/she is the owner of that email address, that the address is working and that he/she actually had the intention to provide such consent. The request for confirmation should include the purpose for which it has been sent, the identity of the controller and all relevant information about the data processing and it should also provide the data subject with the right to opt-out.

In addition to the above, the controller should: (i) provide appropriate and adequate information to the subscriber/user prior to his/her consent; (ii) record the data subject’s consent in a secure manner; (iii) make such record of consent accessible to the subscriber/user upon his/her request; (iv) provide the subscriber/user with the right to revoke his/her consent; (v) keep the relevant record as long as commercial communication is sent to the subscriber/user; and (vi) in the case that the controller stops sending e-mails for direct marketing purposes subscribers/users’ consent should be kept no longer that 6 months following the last e-mail.

Conditions for direct marketing by e-mail to corporate subscribers

The regime above applies to any personal e-mail addresses at corporate subscribers.

Exemptions and other issues

The similar products and services exemption applies under the Law 3471/2006, the Law 2251/1994 (regarding Consumer Protection) as well as of Presidential Decree 131/2003 (implementing the eCommerce Directive 2000/31/EC). The ECA also prohibits direct marketing e-mails from being sent if: (i) the identity of the sender is disguised or concealed; or (ii) an opt-out address is not provided.

The sender must also include the eCommerce information (as per the Presidential Decree nr. 131/2003).

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Marketing by Telephone

Conditions for direct marketing by telephone to individual subscribers (excludes automated calls)

It is not permitted to make direct marketing calls to individual subscribers who have either: (i) previously objected to such calls; or (ii) are listed on the opt-out registers.

Conditions for direct marketing by telephone to corporate subscribers (excludes automated calls)

It is not permitted to make direct marketing calls to corporate subscribers who have either: (i) previously objected to such calls; or (ii) are listed on the opt-out registers.

Exemptions and other issues

Calls can be made to a subscriber who is listed on the opt-out registers if they have consented to receiving such calls.

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