Tip #9/10 – Spare ME ‘legitimate interest’ in – the new EU Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)


If you don’t know what ‘legitimate interest’ is then it’s about time you did. If it sounds too much ‘legal speak’ then get in your legal geek and ask him/her. You may find it useful!

Article 6 of the GDPR contains 6 conditions upon which you can collect (or more accurately, process) personal data, and the last (f) is ‘legitimate interest’. To read more on this go to Recital 47. Now according to the GDPR this is NOT a last resort, but unless you read through all the small print if feels that this is what it is. On first reading is translates to, if you don’t get consent of the data subject, if there is no contract, if there is no national interest, etc., to collect personal data, well you can anyhow using the ‘legitimate interest’ clause, which you can even use for direct marketing, and you don’t need to get consent! So how good can it get?

I’ve been avoiding the ‘legitimate interest’ part since it first popped up on my radar at the beginning of this year, after being freaked out following a whole day in a room full of legal geeks discussing the complexity of consent. I’ve heard the legal guys complaining about the loophole of ‘legitimate interest’ at the Privacy BizzGrid in June, but have closed my ears to this. It seems all so very complicated, like the ‘to consent or not consent’ question. In fact to my bemusement they are connected by the umbilical cord; that is consent and ‘legitimate interest’, and something I was unaware of when writing the post on ‘screaming into GDPR‘ post.

Basically, legitimate interest includes the use of employee personal data to secure your IT systems, it includes the use in direct marketing, and in research, and more, and like stated above, no consent from the data subject is required!

Now don’t get too excited … you need to balance the scales, if you cannot provide arguments which balance the ‘legitmate interest’ of your organisation against those of the potential harm to the data subject, you have no case.

I found a great 2-pager on ‘legitimate interest’, okay not comprehensive, but for the likes of you and I, guys and girls that don’t eat ‘legal speak’ for breakfast it is quite good enough thank you! Enjoy….

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