Data pro­tec­tion in B2B business

What mat­ters accor­ding to the GDPR

The GDPR not only pro­tects con­su­mers in the pro­ces­sing of their per­so­nal data, but also has an
effect in B2B busi­ness.
Many com­pa­nies are nevert­hel­ess not awa­re of this con­se­quence. In this
artic­le, we will show you what you curr­ent­ly need to con­sider when it comes to data pro­tec­tion
com­pli­ance in B2B busi­ness, par­ti­cu­lar­ly with regard to lawful data sources.

The pro­ces­sing of cus­to­mer and sup­pli­er data

Many com­pa­nies are not awa­re that they pro­cess per­so­nal data of their busi­ness part­ners’,
cus­to­mers’ or sup­pli­ers’ employees in their ever­y­day busi­ness. For the lawful pro­ces­sing of the­se
data, it is of gre­at importance that the respon­si­ble com­pa­nies rely on the cor­rect legal basis in
accordance with the GDPR when doing so. Most com­pa­nies incor­rect­ly assu­me data pro­ces­sing
for pur­po­ses of con­tract per­for­mance. They fail to reco­gni­ze, howe­ver, that employees are not
usual­ly the con­trac­ting par­ty at all. Wit­hout a cir­cum­stan­ti­al­ly obtai­ned con­sent, data pro­ces­sing
is only lawful on the basis of a legi­ti­ma­te interest.

The pro­ces­sing of publicly available data

As a jud­ge­ment by the Hig­her Regio­nal Court of Ham­burg in Decem­ber 2020 demons­tra­tes,
company-related data from publicly acces­si­ble regis­ters may be lawful­ly (fur­ther) pro­ces­sed in
other data­ba­ses. Com­pa­nies are not entit­led under data pro­tec­tion law to have com­pa­ny data in
such data­ba­ses dele­ted or blo­cked.
Com­pa­ny data in publicly acces­si­ble regis­ters, such as the Fede­ral Gazet­te, the Com­mer­cial
Regis­ter or the Insol­ven­cy Regis­ter, beco­mes per­so­nal data and thus sub­ject to the GDPR if it
con­ta­ins infor­ma­ti­on about the natu­ral per­son acting on its behalf. Such a data­ba­se ser­ves to
sim­pli­fy coll­ec­tion of infor­ma­ti­on for the pur­po­se of trans­pa­ren­cy and secu­ri­ty of busi­ness
tran­sac­tions.
Inso­far as the data­ba­se only brings tog­e­ther data from the public regis­ters wit­hout gene­ra­ting any
new data from them, the natu­ral per­son con­cer­ned can­not object to publi­ca­ti­on in the data­ba­se on
the basis of his or her inte­rest in secrecy.

The trade of cont­act data in B2B business

Tra­ding data or pro­files of busi­ness cont­acts (so-called “leads”) in B2B busi­ness is attrac­ti­ve for com­pa­nies. Leads are crea­ted for adver­ti­sing pur­po­ses to demons­tra­te a per­son’s pos­si­ble inte­rest in a com­pany’s ser­vices or pro­ducts. Com­pa­nies hire mer­chants direct­ly eit­her to crea­te leads or to obtain leads alre­a­dy crea­ted by third-party com­pa­nies. This prac­ti­ce is not only sub­ject to con­sidera­ble risks under data pro­tec­tion law, but also under com­pe­ti­ti­on law. In order to be able to legal­ly (fur­ther) pro­cess the purcha­sed data and use such data for them­sel­ves, com­pa­nies must legal­ly eva­lua­te every step from coll­ec­tion to use so as not to expo­se them­sel­ves to immense lia­bi­li­ty risk. The requi­re­ments for lega­li­ty are com­plex: Legal basis, trans­pa­ren­cy requi­re­ment vis-à-vis busi­ness cont­acts, dele­ti­on con­cepts, etc. We stron­gly advi­se against such tra­ding wit­hout pri­or legal advice.

Con­clu­si­on

B2B data pro­tec­tion only suc­ceeds if you keep your com­pli­ance manage­ment up to date. Con­sider
in par­ti­cu­lar the hand­ling of per­so­nal data in B2B busi­ness, the cor­re­spon­ding legal bases for
pro­ces­sing, and the imple­men­ta­ti­on of data sub­ject rights and era­su­re concepts.

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