Electronic access control is common in businesses plus organizations are increasingly considering biometrics for access control. With GDPR coming into force this Spring, it is important to understand how this will impact these systems.
IPVM has already published an extensive guide about the GDPR’s effect on video surveillance. This new 13-page guide covers GDPR’s effect on the access control industry since much of the data collected for access control purposes – e.g., names, addresses, fingerprints – are personal data whose processing is clearly regulated by the GDPR.
The guide has the following core sections:
- Where Access Control Providers Fit into GDPR categories of controllers and processors
- Why Processors Aim To Keep Distance
- Legal Basis for Processing Access Control
- Impact of Biometrics on Access Control GDPR Requirements
- Dealing With Employees Who Refuse Biometrics Consent
- Access Control Systems Excluded From Biometrics Claim
- Guidelines for Storing Access Control data
- Handling Right to be forgotten/Right to information requests for access control systems
- Encrypting / Anonymizing access control information
- Concerns with AD / LDAP integrations
- Data breach response for access control
- Data Protection Impact Assessments for access control systems
- Dealing with Data Specific to Access Control, e.g. Physical Activity Log
- Manufacturer GDPR guides including Avigilon, Brivo, Genetec, Lenel, Paxton, RS2, S2, Tyco
To start, it’s important to realize that the GDPR is a broad set of regulations which do not mention particular industries, including access control or its products.
Therefore, anyone claiming to provide “GDPR certification” for particular products in access control or any other industry is wrong. (See IPVM’s previous report: Dahua Products Are Not GDPR Compliant, No Products Can Be.)
Data Controller and Data Processors
The GDPR creates two distinct categories – data controllers and data processors. Controllers are the firms which gather and control the use of peoples’ personal data, and processors are the ones who process that data on behalf of controllers.
The distinction is important as data controllers typically have more responsibilities under the GDPR; for example, only controllers have a duty to report data breaches to authorities.
Access Control GDPR Category Examples
As in video surveillance, access control end users would typically be considered “data controllers.” For example, if a pharmaceutical company buys an access control system for a new building and its employees, the pharma company is the data controller.
Data processors are the companies which handle the personal data collected by end users. For access control, in most cases this means firms like Genetec, Lenel, Software House, S2 Security, etc..
Access control integrators/installers could also be considered data processors depending on whether they handle their end users’ personal data or not. For example, an integrator with temporary access to employees’ personal addresses for maintenance purposes would be considered a data processor in this instance.
Processors Keep Distance
Many data processors in the access control industry emphasize that they can only provide the means to comply with the GDPR’s provisions, rather than assuring compliance in and of themselves.
Because access control involves data which is very easy to immediately identify people with (unlike video surveillance), processors are keen to distance themselves from end users/data controllers in case those end users mishandle the data.
For example, S2 Security says in its public GDPR guide that it may not be considered a data processor in some cases because “on-premises deployments of access monitoring and video management systems often do not involve a Data Processor because the Data Controller handles all personal data.” S2 is correct when it comes to on-premise deployments. UPDATE: as pointed out by a commenter, even on-premise deployments could see themselves as processors under the GDPR if they access personal data for maintenance or other reasons.
However, it is worth remembering that firms providing cloud-connected access control solutions would be considered data processors under the GDPR. Moreover, as more systems are moving to the cloud, either for hosting, management or access, access control providers are more likely to fall under the data processor category.
Main Points of Compliance for Access Control
Legal Basis of Processing