Personal Data of Deceased People: Clear Indications by the Italian Data Protection Authority

Access to personal data concerning deceased people may represent an issue and a necessity, especially for their heirs. How is such kind of access to personal data currently regulated under the Italian Law (Legislative Decree n. 196/2003), as amended after GDPR?

The Italian Data Protection Authority, in its efforts to combine data protection legislation and clarity, recently issued an outline of article 2-terdecies of the Legislative Decree n. 196/2003.

  • Who is entitled to such right to access? Whoever (i) has a vested interest; (ii) acts in the interest of the deceased person (who is the “interested party” pursuant to data protection laws); (iii) acts as mandatary; or (iv) acts for worthwhile reasons of family protection.
  • To whom should the request to access data be addressed? The request should be addressed to the relevant Data Controller (i.e., the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body, either private or public, which determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data), also through the Data Processor (i.e., the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which processes personal data on behalf of the Data Controller), where appointed.
  • Which information may be requested? (i) Access to personal data of the deceased person; (ii) the purpose of processing data; (iii) which data have been communicated and the related addressees; (iv) the retention period; (v) the origin of such data and (vi) whether data are subject to an automatic decisional processing (Sections 15-22 of GDPR).
  • Do you have to pay to access data? No, it is free (unless the request is manifestly unfounded or excessive).
  • Are there any exceptions or limits? Yes, it is not possible to access data in the event it is forbidden (i) by the law or (ii) by the interested party, who released an express and unequivocal declaration addressed to the Data Controller. However, even in the latter hypothesis, third parties exercising their patrimonial rights originating from the death of the interested party cannot be prejudiced in their rights.
  • Do you have to motivate your request? No.
  • How long does it take to get a feedback on your request? Maximum one monthsince your request, except in some particular cases, as provided by GDPR.
  • What can you do if your request is refused or in lack of any feedback? You may address the Italian Data Protection Authority or the relevant court.

Access to data concerning deceased people seems to be quite easy in theory. However, balancing patrimonial rights of heirs and assessing “express and unequivocal” declarations of the deceased may prove to be more complex in practice.

About Elisa Pettiti

Elisa works with Gitti and Partners as a junior associate, mainly dealing with labour and corporate aspects related to M&A transactions and corporate restructuring, as well as with information technologies (Blockchain) and labour law.

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