The GDPR does not provide for a legal definition of the notion “transfer of personal data to a third country or to an international organisation”. Therefore, the EDPB provides these guidelines to clarify the scenarios to which it considers that the requirements of Chapter V should be applied and, to that end, it has identified three cumulative criteria to qualify a processing operation as a transfer:
- A controller or a processor (“exporter”) is subject to the GDPR for the given processing.
- The exporter discloses by transmission or otherwise makes personal data, subject to this processing, available to another controller, joint controller or processor (“importer”).
- The importer is in a third country, irrespective of whether or not this importer is subject to the GDPR for the given processing in accordance with Article 3, or is an international organisation.
If the three criteria as identified by the EDPB are met, there is a transfer and Chapter V of the GDPR is applicable. This means that the transfer can only take place under certain conditions, such as in the context of an adequacy decision from the European Commission (Article 45) or by providing appropriate safeguards (Article 46). The provisions of Chapter V aim at ensuring the continued protection of personal data after they have been transferred to a third country or to an international organisation.
Conversely, if the three criteria are not met, there is no transfer and Chapter V of the GDPR does not apply. In this context, it is however important to recall that the controller must nevertheless comply with the other provisions of the GDPR and remains fully accountable for its processing activities, regardless of where they take place. Indeed, although a certain data transmission may not qualify as a transfer according to Chapter V, such processing can still be associated with increased risks since it takes place outside the EU, for example due to conflicting national laws or disproportionate government access in the third country. These risks need to be considered when taking measures under, inter alia, Article 5 (“Principles relating to processing of personal data”), Article 24 (“Responsibility of the controller”) and Article 32 (“Security of processing”) – in order for such processing operation to be lawful under the GDPR.
These guidelines include various examples of data flows to third countries, which are also illustrated in an Annex in order to provide further practical guidance.(more…)