Data Protected - Greece
Last updated March 2020
General | Data Protection Laws
National Supervisory Authority
Scope of Application
Sensitive Personal Data
Data Protection Officers
Accountability and Privacy Impact Assessments
Rights of Data Subjects
Transfer of Personal Data to Third Countries
ePrivacy | Marketing and cookies
General | Data Protection Laws
General data protection laws
The General Data Protection Regulation (EU) (2016/679) (“GDPR”).
Greece has implemented the GDPR in its national legislation under Law 4624/2019.
Entry into force
The GDPR has applied since 25 May 2018.
Law 4624/2019 entered into force on 29 August 2019.
National Supervisory Authority
Details of the competent national supervisory authority
The Hellenic Data Protection Authority acts as the supervisory authority in Greece.
Data Protection Authority (the “Authority”)
1-3 Kifisias Avenue
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. However, controllers and processors must keep a record of their processing and make it available to their supervisory authority on request (subject to limited exemptions).
Exemptions to notification
Scope of Application
What is the territorial scope of application?
The GDPR applies to 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.
The European Data Protection Board has issued Guidelines on the territorial scope of the GDPR (3/2018).
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.
There are no national derogations regarding the scope of application of the GDPR under Law 4624/2019.
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 cookies.
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: (i) processed fairly, lawfully and transparently; (ii) collected for specific, explicit and legitimate purposes and not processed in a manner incompatible with those purposes; (iii) adequate, relevant and not excessive; (iv) accurate and, where necessary, up to date; (v) kept in an identifiable form for no longer than necessary; and (vi) 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 old Data Protection Directive. The European Data Protection Board has issued Guidelines on the performance of a contract processing condition for online services (2/2019).
Are there any formalities to obtain consent to process personal data?
The requirements for consent under the GDPR are strict.
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 European Data Protection Board has issued Guidelines on consent (5/2020).
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 minimum age at which a child can provide a valid consent to online services is 15 years old.
Are there any special rules when processing personal data about employees?
The GDPR allows Member States to implement more specific national rules governing the processing of personal data about employees. It may also be possible to process special category personal data where it is necessary for a legal obligation in the field of employment law.
Under Law 4624/2019, the evaluation of whether an employee has given valid consent must take into account the employee's dependency on the contract of employment and the circumstances under which the consent was granted. Consent can be provided either in hard copy or electronically and must be clearly distinguished from the employment contract. The employer must inform the employee of the purpose of the processing of personal data and the right to withdraw his consent.
There are a number of derogations in Law 4624/2019 permitting the processing of special category personal data. In particular, the processing of sensitive personal data by public and private bodies is permitted where necessary for the exercise of rights deriving from the right to social security and social protection or for the assessment of the employee's ability to work.
Special category personal data may also be processed for the purposes of employment contracts, if necessary for the exercise of rights or the fulfilment of legal obligations arising from labour law, social security law and social protection.
Sensitive Personal Data
What is sensitive personal data?
Special category 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?
Special category data may only be processed if a condition for processing special category 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 fields of employment, social security and social protection 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.
There are a number of derogations in Law 4624/2019 permitting the processing of special category personal data. In particular, the processing of sensitive personal data by public and private bodies is permitted where necessary for: (i) the exercise of rights deriving from the right to social security and social protection; (ii) for reasons of preventive medicine, for the assessment of the employee's ability to work, for medical diagnosis, for the provision of health or social care or for the management of health or social welfare systems and services or under contract with a health professional or other a person who is bound by or supervised by professional secrecy; (iii) for reasons of public interest in the field of public health, such as serious cross-border health threats or to ensure high quality and safety standards for healthcare and medicinal products or medical devices.
In addition, the processing special category personal data by public bodies permitted when: (i) strictly necessary for reasons of essential public interest; (ii) necessary to prevent a significant threat to national security or public security; or (iii) necessary for humanitarian measures.
In addition, special category personal data may also be processed: (i) for the purposes of employment contracts, if necessary for the exercise of rights or the fulfilment of legal obligations arising from labour law, social security law and social protection; (ii) for the purposes of filing, for the public interest; (iii) when necessary to ensure freedom of expression and the right to information, including for journalistic, academic, artistic or literary purposes; and (iv) where it is necessary for the purpose of scientific or historical research or the collection and maintenance of statistics, without the consent of the subject.
However, the processing of genetic data for health and life insurance purposes is prohibited.
Are there additional rules for processing information about criminal offences?
It is only possible to process personal data relating to 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 providing for appropriate safeguards for the rights and freedoms of data subjects.
Under Law 4624/2019, information about criminal offences, convictions and prosecutions may be processed when necessary to ensure freedom of expression and the right to information, including for journalistic, academic, artistic or literary purposes.
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.
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 special category personal data on a large scale (including processing information about criminal offences).
There are no additional mandatory obligations to appointing 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. Details of the data protection officer must be communicated to the relevant supervisory authority.
The Article 29 Working Party has issued Guidelines on Data Protection Officers (WP243).
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 on a large scale either special categories of personal data or personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences; and (c) systematic monitoring of a publicly accessible area on a large scale (e.g. CCTV). Where the assessment indicates the risk cannot be mitigated, the controller must consult the relevant supervisory authority.
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.
Rights of Data Subjects
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.
The European Data Protection Board has issued Guidelines on the criteria of the Right to be Forgotten in the search engines cases under the GDPR (part 1) (5/2019).
Objection to direct marketing
A data subject can object to their personal data being processed for direct marketing purposes at any time. This includes profiling to the extent related to direct marketing.
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).
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.
Specific notice of breach laws apply to the electronic communications sector under national laws implementing the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive and to operators of essential services and digital service providers under national laws implementing the Network and Information Systems Directive.
The Article 29 Working Party has issued Guidelines on Personal Data Breach Notification (WP250).
Transfer of Personal Data to Third Countries
Restrictions on transfers to third countries
The GDPR contains a restriction on transborder dataflows. This restriction does not apply if the transfer is to a whitelisted country.
Transfers can be made: (i) pursuant to a set of Model Contracts; (ii) pursuant to binding corporate rules; (iii) to an importer who has signed up to an approved code or obtained an approved certification; or (iv) where otherwise approved by the relevant supervisory authority. However, following the decision in Schrems II (C-311/18) any transfer made on this basis must be subject to an assessment of the laws of the relevant third country and supplemented by supplementary protections where necessary.
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 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 (subject to approval through the consistency mechanism) 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..
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).
Under Law 4624/2019 there are a series of criminal offences concerning personal data that apply to unauthorised processing and unauthorised disclosure of personal data. These offences are punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment and fine of up to €300,000.
Data subjects have a right to compensation in respect of material and non-material damage.
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.
- In December 2019, Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc, was fined €150,000 for the processing of personal data in a computer infrastructure (hardware and software-server) without complying with the Security Principle of the GDPR. (Decision no. 44/2019 of the HDPA)
- In December 2019, Allseas Marine S.A. ,was fined €15,000 for the use of a CCTV system in breach of the requirements of the GDPR. (Decision no. 43/2019 of the HDPA)
- In October 2019, OTE, a telecoms provider was fined €200,000 because many of their customers were targeted by telemarketing calls that they had opted out of. This was ignored because of technical errors. (Decision no. 34/2019 of the HDPA)
- In October 2019, OTE, a telecoms provider was fined €200,000 because the data of 8,000 customers was not deleted at their request, again due to technical errors. (Decision no.31/2019 of the HDPA)
- In July 2019, PwC Business Solutions was fined €150,000 for processing employee personal data using the legal basis of consent, which was found to be an unsuitable legal basis (Decision no.26/2019 of the HDPA).
Other enforcement action: The Hellenic Data Protection Authority has issued only a few decisions enforcing the GDPR. Under decision no. 66/2018, the Authority imposed a sanction to a controller for unlawfully processing data for the purpose of sending advertising messages through mobile applications. Under decision no. 67/2018, the Authority imposed a sanction to a controller for a security breach. Under decisions no. 68 and 69/2018, the Authority imposed sanctions on banks for failing to submit a personal data breach notification within the statutory time period. Under decision no. 15/2019 the Authority imposed a sanction to a Greek Public Power Corporation for failing to satisfy the complainant’s request for access to his personal information on time. Under decision no. 16/2019, the Authority imposed a sanction on a controller that used the shared expenses receipts of the subject (which he acquired as manager of the apartment building), without informing him that it intended to further process his personal data for a purpose other than the one for which it was collected, in breach of the provisions of Article 13 (3) of the GDPR. Under decision no. 20/2019 the Authority imposed a sanction to Google LLC. for failing to delete hyperlinks by request of the complainant. Under decision no. 38/2019 the Authority imposed a sanction to Wind Hellas for failing to properly inform subjects about their rights under article 14 of the GDPR. Under decision 41/2019 the Authority imposed a sanction to the Hellenic Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy for failing to satisfy the complainant’s right to access.
The enforcement of the previous legislation (Law 2472/1997) is also instructive. According to official Authority statistics, in 2017, the total number of pending cases, appeals, queries and notifications related to processing reached 3,709, an increase of approximately 19.5% compared to the corresponding number in 2016 of which 152 cases were examined by the Plenary Session / Division. Also, in 2017, the Authority issued 7 opinions. In particular, the Authority examined 595 appeals or complaints and 1,211 inquiries from controllers or citizens about the lawfulness of a particular processing or the application of the relevant legislation. It investigated 1,903 notification cases about filing and processing operations, of which 1,652 of these concerned the installation and operation of CCTV systems and the rest in record keeping or processing of personal data, including 105 non-EU data transmission notifications. Also in 2017, the Authority granted or renewed 275 licences to maintain sensitive data files and 5 permits to transfer data to third countries. This included 11 cases concerning access and objections to the Schengen Information System.
In 26 of its decisions the Authority imposed sanctions on controllers and/or processors. In 11 cases the sanction imposed was a warning (a recommendation for compliance) and in 15 cases, fines were imposed ranging from €1,000 to €75,000. In total, fines amounting to €235,000 were imposed. The Authority has imposed sanctions for breach of the provisions relating to the processing of personal data in electronic communications, the obligation to obtain permits and maintaining sensitive data processing permission, the information and the right of access and objection of the subjects, confidentiality and data security, as well as provisions on the use of CCTV systems for the protection of persons and goods (under Directive 1122/2000, as replaced by Directive 1/2011).
No official data is currently available for the Authority’s activity in 2018, since the Authority’s Report of 2018 has not yet been published.
ePrivacy | Marketing and cookies
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).
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”).
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’.
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).
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.