What is the Data Subject Entitled to Under the GDPR Right to Obtain a “Copy”? | ZFZ Postcard Cases

According to Article 15(3) GDPR, a data subject has the right to obtain a copy of its processed personal data from the data controller.

There is ongoing controversy on the proper interpretation of the word “copy” in this article. At present, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) has not clarified whether “copy” means a photocopy/facsimile/electronic copy of the original data carrier (e.g. e-mail, picture, video, etc) or only an excerpt of the personal data processed.

In a case currently pending with the Austrian Federal Administrative Court (“AFAC”), a data subject requested a copy of his electronically processed personal data in a commonly used electronic format pursuant to Article 15(3) GDPR. This request was made to an Austrian credit agency. The controller only provided a table with the data subject’s personal data in aggregated form but refused to provide an actual copy of the processed data.

The AFAC took this opportunity to ask the ECJ to clarify the term “copy” in Article 15(3) GDPR. The ECJ’s interpretation is now awaited. When provided, it will significantly impact the further application of the GDPR – one way or another. This is a case to watch.

For further details, please reach out to Melina Peer or click here.