The Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information

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Bonn/Berlin, 17 June 2020

Press release 13/2020

The BfDI presents activity reports

On 17 June 2020, the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (BfDI), Professor Ulrich Kelber, presented the 28th activity report on data protection and the 7th activity report on freedom of information to the President of the German Bundestag.

Many topics of the reports remain highly topical: In the last few month we could see how hasty initiatives and rushed draft laws shatter the citizens’ confidence. I would like the legislator to take his time for intensive consultation, above all in connection with great projects having an enormous impact on our society. For example, the digitisation in the health care sector can only be successful with a high level of data protection and data security, because the digitisation is geared towards the processing of numerous sensitive health data. In this context, it has to be guaranteed by laws that digitised health data will not be abused by private or governmental bodies and that they also will not lead to stigmatisation or health profiling.

But also in general, the BfDI is charged with a greater workload since the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, Professor Kelber draws a positive balance: The key objectives of the GDPR have been attained: In addition to a harmonisation of data protection law, there is increased awareness for data protection at companies, authorities, and among citizens. Moreover, the supervisory authorities were granted more effective possibilities of imposing sanctions of which they make greater use. For example, at the end of 2019, the BfDI imposed fines for the first time.

In spite of the generally positive balance of the GDPR, the BfDI still sees further potential for improvement: In the GDPR, it is stipulated that it has to undergo an evaluation by the Commission after two years. However, it is still too early for far-reaching amendments to the GDPR. The European Data Protection Board has issued this recommendation to the European Commission. The enforcement of data protection remains difficult, above all vis-à-vis major international IT-companies. In this case, the cooperation of the European data protection supervisory authorities does not function yet.

In his 7th activity report on freedom of information, the BfDI provides information about his activities and significant topics with regard to governmental transparency: In my view, the IFG (“Freedom of Information Act”) requires considerable modernisation: I think that the further development into a transparency act of the Federation and the revision of the safeguard provisions are just as necessary as the extension of my ombudsman function to the Environmental Information Act.

For the first time, the report on data protection has been drawn up in the annual cycle stipulated by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The report on freedom of information documents the BfDI’s activities in the years 2018 and 2019. From 2021 onwards, both activity reports will be merged and published as a single document.

Activity Report - Download