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The Dutch Data Protection Authority (Dutch DPA) clarifies the concept “large scale” for the Data Protection Officer (DPO)


Government agencies and public organisations have the obligation to appoint a DPA, regardless the type of data they process.

Organisations whose core activities include following individuals or mapping them out “on a large scale” also have to do so. Furthermore, organisations have to appoint a DPA when they process, as their core activity, special personal data “on a large scale”. Special personal data are data concerning, for example, an individual’s health, race, political beliefs, religious beliefs or criminal record.

The Dutch DPA has now clarified the concept “large scale” in the context of care providers, as apparent from a press release dated 11 December 2018.

The Dutch DPA always interprets the processing of personal data by hospitals, out-of-hours GP services and health care groups as large scale processing. For all other care providers, the Dutch DPA considers processing as large scale processing if the relevant practice or health care institution has more than 10,000 registered patients or if it treats an average of more than 10,000 patients per year and the data of these patients have been stored in one single information system.

The processing of personal data by pharmacists is seen as large scale processing by the Dutch DPA because pharmacists serve, on average, large numbers of patients and exchange data with many other care providers when treating these patients. However, if fewer than 10,000 data subjects have been registered in the pharmacist’s system, the Dutch DPA does not consider this to be large scale processing – as in the case of other care providers. Thus, the Dutch DPA qualifies its earlier point of view on pharmacists following discussions with the KNMP (the Royal Dutch Society for the Advancement of Pharmacy), the trade association for pharmacists.

Nevertheless, the Dutch DPA recommends that care providers that do not process data on a large scale should also appoint a DPO, whether on a full-time or a part-time basis.

We will be pleased to help you with this issue.


Article provided by: Bob Cordemeyer (Cordemeyer & Slager / advocaten – CS Law, The Netherlands)


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Understanding the complexity of current European data protection laws and regulations is already difficult enough for an IT engineer, buyer, or business user. In combination with the often small but nevertheless significant differences between various EU member states, however, it can become an almost insurmountable challenge without proper juristic accompaniment from the very start... Read More



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