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Legislative and practical adjustments in Bulgaria implementing GDPR

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Earlier in 2019 Bulgaria has become another European Union member to adopt the EU’s privacy regime. The Bulgarian Personal Data Protection Act named the Bulgarian Commission for Personal Data Protection Commission (“CPDP”) to act as a Supervisory Authority in the meaning of art 51 of GDPR.

By introducing CPDP as a Supervisory Authority the new Bulgarian law filled in a legislative gap that occurred between 25 May 2018 - entering into effect of GDPR and 26 February 2019 - entering into effect of the new Bulgarian law, implementing GDPR. From formal perspective during the said period of time in Bulgaria there has not been a Supervisory Authority acting in the sense of 51 of GDPR.

The new Bulgarian law, implementing GDPR, was initially vetoed by the Bulgarian President, the Parliament overcome the veto but currently part of the new law has been, reportedly, challenged before the Bulgarian Constitutional Court where the case is still pending (beginning of June 2019).

The grounds for both Presidential veto and the Constitutional claim are related to part of the new law introducing a “balancing test” in the context of freedom of speech/right of information and the protection of personal data. The said balancing test contains 10 criteria and addresses personal data processing for journalistic purposes and for the needs of academic, artistic and literature expression.

Being overcome, Presidential veto did not affect the application of the new law, while it would be necessary to complete the Constitutional claim proceedings in order to know whether the challenged provisions regarding the “balancing test” shall apply.

The law generally follows the main tenants of the GDPR, such as transparency, fairness, accuracy, and increased consumer rights in business data collection efforts  and also creates special protection provisions for employment data, recruitment data, and data from children and identification cards.  Bulgaria’s act provides stricter protections on some data collection practices that protect freedom of speech and the right to information, broadens the definition of personal data, and clarifies restrictions on data access in criminal investigations.

As part of Bulgaria’s GDPR adjustments it should be noted that CPDP enacted a number of instructions strengthening and clarifying the legal and practical framework such as: adopting Data Protection Impact Assessment List, public discussions regarding video surveillance and the balancing test mentioned above, series of explanatory activities in terms of right to be forgotten, data storage, personal data used in public procurement proceedings, education of data protection officers for the public sector. First fines based on the new law have also been enacted by the CPDP where the amount of the fines is not high as the breaches of data protection legislation are, reportedly, with a low impact on the rights and freedoms of data subjects.

 

Article provided by: Mitko Karushkov and Mario Arabistanov, (“Kambourov & Partners”, Attorneys at law, Bulgaria)

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