Enforcing Art.20 GDPR: Data Portability is the new take-away01 marzo 2017 -
Di Federica Pezza
In particular, according to Art. 20 of the Regulation, “the data subject shall have the right to receive the personal data concerning him or her which he or she has provided to a controller, in a structured commonly used and machine-readable format and have the right to transmit those data to another controller without hindrance from the controller to which the data have been provided”.
The right is granted for two principal reasons.
On one side, the policy objective pursued consists in the “promotion of the individual’s control of their personal data and of their trust in the digital environment” On the other, as clarified by Joaquin Alumnia in his 2012 speech“in a competitive market (…) portability of data is important for those markets where effective competition requires that customers can switch by taking their own data with them”
However, as always when coming to intangible assets, it is difficult to understand what is the actual scope of Art. 20 and, more specifically, to provide a concrete definition of what portability of data means.
In fact, although representing extremely valuable pieces of information, personal data are intangible assets, difficult to define and even more difficult to be tracked.
So, what data portability actually mean?
Imagine data as food. 
Personal data constitutes sensitive information So, imagine them as your tasty, awaited Sunday meal.
By allowing the transfer of data to the subject and then to a different controller, data portability is the new take-away.
Put simply, in its first step, this right is structured in the same way of any other delivery service. The client (“data subject”) places an order (“asks to receive his personal data”) and the delivery service (“data controller”) provides him with his delicious sushi set (“personal data”), served in a lovely and appealing box (“in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format”).
Nevertheless, the actual release of the above-mentioned sushi box, will be subject to three different conditions.
First: the customer request has to be made by “automatic means” (let’s say through the Deliveroo application); second the process has to be based on consent (yet to establish if yours or your girlfriend’s); third: it does not have to adversely affect the rights and freedoms of others. In particular, in this respect, the Guidelines on the right to Data Portability refer to situations where “final records include the data concerning multiple people”, requiring a balance to be made between the interests of the different stakeholders.
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