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Parliamentary questions
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6 December 2018
Answer given by Ms Jourová on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: P-004927/2018

The need to provide information to individuals in a clear language is an inherent part of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)(1). Article 12 of the regulation requires that the data controller takes appropriate measures to provide information in a concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language(2).

The supervision and enforcement of the application of data protection legislation falls primarily under the competence of national authorities, in particular data protection supervisory authorities, and courts.

When traders use terms and conditions(3), they have an obligation to draft them in plain and intelligible language allowing the consumer to acquire actual knowledge of all the terms. If that is not the case, such terms could, under some circumstances, be declared unfair.

The material information which the consumer needs in order to take an informed purchase decision must always be presented pre-contractually in a clear and comprehensible manner(4). The New Deal for consumers proposal adopted in April 2018, amends the scope of Directive 2011/83/EU to cover both ‘free’ digital content and service contracts, meaning contracts where the consumer provides his personal data to the trader.

Furthermore, the Commission has proposed a regulation(5) on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services which includes, inter alia, rules related to terms and conditions which govern the contractual relationship between the provider of the online intermediation service and their business users. The proposed Regulation lays down an obligation for the terms and conditions to be drafted in clear and unambiguous language.

(1)Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation), OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1‐88.
(2)Recitals 58, 60 and 61 GDPR.
(3)Council Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts, OJ L 95, 21.4.1993, p. 29.
(4)Consumer Rights Directive 2011/83/EU.
(5)Proposal of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services, COM(2018) 238 final, 26.4.2018.

Last updated: 6 December 2018Legal notice