Authors: Janet I. Cord, | Practices: | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Transparency Reports

The number of companies and organizations issuing transparency reports is increasing. In general, there are no official standards governing what these reports contain but companies’ reports often incorporate information on requests for information from governments and requests for information to be deleted by individuals and others.

In its most recent report (, Google states: “In this report, we disclose information about the number and type of requests we receive from governments.” In addition, the report includes data about requests made in accordance with the May 2014 European Court of Justice “right to be forgotten” decision.

This “right to be forgotten” is the subject of Article 17 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that provides (except for the exceptions in 17(3)) that: “The data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data concerning him or her without undue delay and the controller shall have the obligation to erase personal data without undue delay where one of the following grounds applies:

  1. the personal data are no longer necessary in relation to the purposes for which they were collected or otherwise processed;
  2. the data subject withdraws consent on which the processing is based according to point (a) of Article 6(1), or point (a) of Article 9(2), and where there is no other legal ground for the processing;
  3. the data subject objects to the processing pursuant to Article 21(1) and there are no overriding legitimate grounds for the processing, or the data subject objects to the processing pursuant to Article 21(2);
  4. the personal data have been unlawfully processed;
  5. the personal data have to be erased for compliance with a legal obligation in Union or Member State law to which the controller is subject;
  6. the personal data have been collected in relation to the offer of information society services referred to in Article 8(1).

Under Article 17(2), where the controller has made the personal data public and is obliged pursuant to paragraph 1 to erase the personal data, the controller, taking account of available technology and the cost of implementation, shall take reasonable steps, including technical measures, to inform controllers which are processing the personal data that the data subject has requested the erasure by such controllers of any links to, or copy or replication of, those personal data.”

The University of California, Berkeley has a transparency report that includes government requests for information on students, faculty and staff. Companies such as Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Twitter also publish transparency reports on requests for information from governments.

It is to be expected that the number of companies that will publish transparency reports will increase as the users of these services will come to expect these reports.

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