The Processing of Wellness Data Based on the Data Subject’s Consent

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Title: The Processing of Wellness Data Based on the Data Subject’s Consent
Author: Meriranta, Emmi
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Oikeustieteellinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law
Helsingfors universitet, Juridiska fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2018
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Eurooppaoikeus
European law
Abstract: On 25 of May 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) shall become applicable in the EU Member States. The GDPR aims to tackle the privacy concerns that has been ever growing due to the increase of processing people’s data online. One of the most fundamental questions of the data protection rules is, when and under which conditions personal data processing is lawful. This research studies wellness data under the GDPR. Wellness data can be perceived as health-related data, however not necessarily always as health data. The problem is linked to the fact that both health and wellness data may include the same denominators such as pulse and activity. Health data is included in the category of sensitive personal data which is more strictly regulated than non-sensitive personal data. In general, there is no consensus on how wellness data is positioned under the data protection regime and it has been noted that the category of health data ought to be more precisely defined. The need for a clear definition of these two data categories is examined through the GDPR requirement that lawful processing may be based on a consent by the data subject. Processing of non-sensitive personal data requires a consent, whereas processing sensitive personal data is generally prohibited unless there is a justification for the processing. Processing of sensitive personal data may be permitted when there is an explicit consent by the data subject. Since it is unclear, is wellness data included in the category of sensitive personal data this research further examines the requirements of the consent needed to process wellness data. The notion of wellness data is analysed via related concepts of personal data, anonymous and pseudonymous data, sensitive personal data, and health data. By establishing how wellness data ought to be perceived related to these categories, the findings are then applied against the material scope of the GDPR and the elements of a valid consent in order to provide guidance on the lawful processing of wellness data based on the consent by the data subject.

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