GDPR : Article 72 - Procedure

by Sneha Naskar

In the digital age, data breaches loom as an ever-present threat, necessitating robust safeguards for personal data. The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), enacted in 2018, stands as a beacon of hope for data privacy. At its heart lies Article 72, a provision that meticulously delineates the procedures organizations must follow when faced with a data breach. This expansive blog post embarks on an in-depth exploration of Article 72, unraveling its multifaceted components, far-reaching implications, and the pivotal role it plays in the intricate landscape of data protection.

Article 72 of the GDPR: Unraveling Its Essence

Article 72 of the GDPR: Unraveling Its Essence

This compass, Article 72, is indispensable for organizations navigating the turbulent seas of data breaches. To comprehend its full significance, we must delve into the GDPR's definition of a data breach, which encompasses any unauthorized or accidental access, disclosure, alteration, or destruction of personal data. These breaches can stem from an array of sources, spanning cyberattacks, human errors, or technological glitches. Understanding this foundation is key to unlocking the intricacies of Article 72's role in safeguarding data and upholding privacy rights.

The Critical Role of Data Breach Notifications

This obligation lies at the heart of Article 72, emphasizing the paramount importance of transparency and swift action. Organizations are tasked with notifying the relevant supervisory authority without delay when a data breach occurs, ensuring that this notification is initiated within a tight 72-hour window from the moment the organization becomes aware of the breach. However, exceptions are recognized when compelling reasons exist to believe that the breach poses no risk to individuals' rights and freedoms, adding a layer of nuance to this critical obligation.

Crafting a Comprehensive Data Breach Notification

Crafting a notification in compliance with Article 72 is indeed a meticulous endeavor, demanding precision and transparency. To meet these standards, organizations must ensure that their notifications contain essential elements: a comprehensive description of the breach's nature, an estimate of the number and categories of data subjects affected, the contact details of the designated Data Protection Officer (DPO), and an assessment of the potential consequences of the breach. Providing this information empowers the supervisory authority to thoroughly evaluate the breach's severity and take swift, well-informed measures to mitigate its impact.

Extending Notification to Data Subjects

Beyond notifying supervisory authorities, organizations may be compelled to inform affected data subjects directly and without undue delay when the breach is likely to result in a high risk to their rights and freedoms. This requirement aims to uphold transparency and empower data subjects with insights into the breach's nature, potential ramifications, and the measures taken to mitigate risks.

Exceptions and Their Nuances

Article 72 does provide exceptions to the notification rule. Organizations may be exempt from notifying data subjects and supervisory authorities if they can demonstrate the implementation of robust technical and organizational measures to protect data, coupled with actions taken to render the breach unlikely to result in risks to data subjects. However, these exceptions entail stringent conditions and require thorough evaluation.

The Imperative of Meticulous Record-Keeping

Article 72 underscores the significance of maintaining meticulous records of all data breaches, regardless of whether they necessitate notification. These records must encapsulate intricate details concerning the breach, its repercussions, and the steps taken to rectify the situation. These records serve as an indispensable tool in showcasing GDPR compliance during audits or investigations.

The Weight of Non-Compliance

Failure to adhere to Article 72's stipulations can lead to severe consequences. Supervisory authorities wield the authority to impose substantial fines and penalties on organizations that fall short of fulfilling their obligations. The gravity of these penalties hinges on various factors, including the breach's nature, gravity, and the level of cooperation demonstrated by the organization.

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Embracing Data Protection by Design and Default

Article 72 is intricately intertwined with the GDPR's overarching principle of "data protection by design and default." This principle underscores the paramount

importance of integrating robust data protection measures from the inception of data processing operations. By prioritizing data security, organizations can not only reduce the risk of breaches but also minimize the necessity for breach notifications.

The Role of the Data Protection Officer (DPO)

Within the framework of Article 72, organizations are encouraged to designate a Data Protection Officer (DPO). The DPO assumes a pivotal role in ensuring GDPR compliance. Responsibilities encompass monitoring data protection practices, offering guidance on breach prevention, and facilitating the breach notification process.


In an era where data fuels the digital landscape, safeguarding personal data stands as a solemn duty. Article 72 of the GDPR sets the stage for how organizations must navigate the tumultuous waters of data breaches, fostering transparency, accountability, and swift action. Understanding and adhering to the provisions of Article 72 are not just regulatory obligations but commitments to protecting the rights and privacy of individuals. In a world where data breaches are not a question of "if" but "when," preparedness can make all the difference in securing both data subjects' trust and an organization's reputation, embracing the principles of Article 72 is not merely a legal mandate; it's a testament to an organization's dedication to data security and privacy in an increasingly interconnected world.

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