What Is a Data Protection Impact Assessment?

What Is DSIA Data Protection Impact Assessment

The data protection impact assessment, or DSIA for short, is an important installation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It is intended to ensure the protection of personal data in data-processing bodies through a risk analysis to be carried out in advance. The consequences of processing operations are to be examined and evaluated in detail in advance.

What Is DSIA (Data Protection Impact Assessment)?

The data protection impact assessment, abbreviated DSIA, is described in more detail in Article 35 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It is a structured risk analysis to be carried out in advance of data processing, designed as a control mechanism for data processing entities. The DSIA is intended to ensure the protection of personal data by analyzing and evaluating the consequences of data processing operations for the data subjects.

The data protection impact assessment is comparable to the prior checking already existing in German data protection law (Section 4d (5) BDSG). The risk analysis is usually carried out by the data protection officer. At the end of the analysis, there is an opinion on the lawfulness of the processing of the data and an assessment of possible consequences for the freedoms and personal rights of the data subjects.

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When a data protection impact assessment must be carried out

According to the GDPR, a data protection impact assessment must be carried out whenever the processing of data is likely to create high risks for the freedoms and personal rights of data subjects. Article 35(3) of the GDPR provides some examples where there is an obligation to conduct a data protection impact assessment. These may include, for example, the following operations:

  • Extensive processing of data relating to criminal offenses and criminal convictions
  • Systematic and widespread surveillance of public areas
  • Comprehensive assessment of personal aspects of natural persons based on profiling and automated processing that produces legal effects concerning individuals or significantly affects them as a basis for decision-making.

From these examples, a broader scope of application of the DSIA compared to the BDSG can be expected. Supervisory authorities have an obligation under the GDPR to draw up and publish lists of processing operations for which a DSIA is required or need not be performed.

Entities that need to conduct a data protection impact assessment.

Not every company and organization has to conduct a data protection impact assessment in case of data processing of personal data. From the example cases listed in GDPR Article 35(3), the following public and non-public entities are required to conduct a DSIA prior check:

  • Credit reporting agencies that work with personal scoring procedures.
  • Organizations that systematically monitor publicly accessible premises by video
  • Organizations that collect, store, and process data related to criminal offenses and criminal convictions
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Minimum requirements when conducting a data protection impact assessment.

Article 35(7) describes the minimum requirements for conducting a DSIA. The DSIA must have at least the following content:

  • Precise description of the processing operations to be carried out, including the purpose of the processing and any interests of the controller.
  • Analysis and evaluation of the proportionality and necessity with regard to the collection and processing of personal data for the respective purpose
  • Analysis and evaluation of the risks arising for freedoms and rights of the data subjects
  • Planned measures to address the risks