Is Santa Breaching GDPR and Data Protection Laws?

Key takeaways:

  • Santa may have a lawful basis to process personal data through consent and legitimate interest.
  • Personal data includes your Naughty or Nice score, your address and whether it has a viable chimney.
  • If Santa’s elves knowingly ignored GDPR rules, they could lose their job at the workshop!

It’s that time of year again, and there’s only one thing on everybody’s mind. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

(Huh? What do you mean you thought we meant what presents we want, or the lyrics to ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’?)

But what about Santa? Does he need to abide by GDPR and data protection laws too?

Santa Claus has been collecting personal data for centuries! He’s always in the know, keeping a record of who’s naughty and nice, and he’s checking it twice, but is Santa sticking to the rules set out in GDPR and data protection laws?

Although he’s based at the North Pole, Father Christmas has data subjects all over the globe, including the European Union (EU), meaning that he’s most likely subject to GDPR.

Santa’s main goal is to deliver presents (or coal) to children everywhere, but his data processing activities could be making the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) frown.

GDPR does not stop Santa from being able to deliver presents – it only requires him to be compliant and transparent about how he is carrying out his activities.

Data protection laws require him to ensure that he stores personal data securely, processes it only for specific reasons and doesn’t share or transfer it without permission.

Santa has a lot of tasks to complete before Christmas day, so let’s hope he’s compliant!

Read more: Demystifying GDPR

Santa GDPR

What does personal data look like?

Some of the personal data Santa may have access to include your:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Address (and whether it has a viable chimney)
  • Gender
  • Naughty or Nice score
  • Metadata on the score decision (including naughty or nice data from throughout the year)
  • Toy wished for in your letter
  • List of existing toys
  • Parental/guardian information (which may include their salary information to determine the number of gifts a kid may get etc)

Due to the high volume of letters Santa receives, Santa must implement appropriate security measures to keep this personal data safe, such as encryption technology.

Saint Nick should also be aware of his responsibilities under GDPR, such as the roles of the data controller or processor, and the requirements to keep records to document GDPR compliance.

Does Santa have a lawful basis for the processing of personal data?

For the sake of this post, we’ll brush past the privacy concerns surrounding a man on a sleigh visiting and entering properties around the world, sometimes without being explicitly invited by that household.

Many of us have written letters to Santa, telling him about all the presents we’d love to open on Christmas Day. These letters may serve as a legitimate basis for Santa to process our personal data. 

Article 6 of GDPR specifies that there must be a lawful basis for the processing of such data, and ‘consent’ is one of them.

Santa may argue that he has parental/guardian consent to access their children’s personal information. This means he should assure parents/guardians that their child’s personal data will remain safe and secure, and only be used for the purpose of delivering presents to them.

GDPR also allows for other lawful bases, such as that processing is in Santa’s legitimate interests (in this case to deliver presents) and ensuring children receive the right gift.

So, if Santa takes suitable security measures to protect the personal data he collects, processes it lawfully and only uses it for specific activities, then he should be GDPR compliant.

But it’s a tricky one, and Santa will have to play it safe and ensure the data is kept secure if he wants to keep the ICO off his tail!

And even with GDPR compliance taken into consideration, it’s still up for debate whether being on the naughty list is worth getting a present from Santa!

Is Santa GDOR compliant? Find out here

Could one of Santa’s elves lose their job over a GDPR breach?

You might be wondering, ‘is a data breach a sackable offence?’

The short answer is, it could be. GDPR requires controllers to employ technical and organisational measures to prevent data breaches. If Santa’s elves knowingly ignored GDPR rules, they could face disciplinary action or even dismissal.

But it’s important to remember that GDPR also provides a right of redress for any individuals affected by a GDPR breach. This means that anyone who suffers as a result of an elf’s GDPR breach may have the right to claim damages from Santa and/or his elves, depending on the severity of the incident.

At the end of the day, GDPR requires Santa and his team to take their responsibilities seriously and make sure they’re GDPR compliant. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

How much does Santa earn?

Truthfully, we don’t know. But even if we did, telling you would be a personal data breach! As you know from this article, GDPR prohibits the processing of any personal data without a lawful basis.

Thank you for reading our post on whether Santa is breaching GDPR and data protection laws. It looks like Santa should take GDPR compliance as seriously as he takes toy-making and gift-delivering.

If Santa wants to get GDPR compliant, he could use Trust Hogen’s GDPR health check service, or our GDPR and Privacy services.

So, when you write Father Christmas a letter this year, make sure to include GDPR compliance in your wish list!  After all, a GDPR-compliant gift delivery could be one of the best presents you get this Christmas!

Happy Holidays everyone!