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Guidelines 07/2020 on the concepts of controller and processor in the GDPR
Version 1.0
Adopted on 02 September 2020


This document seeks to provide guidance on the concepts of controller and processor based on the  GDPR’s rules on definitions in Article 4 and the provisions on obligations in chapter IV. The main aim is  to clarify the meaning of the concepts and to clarify the different roles and the distribution of responsibilities between these actors.

The concept of controller and its interaction with the concept of processor play a crucial role in the application of the GDPR, since they determine who shall be responsible for compliance with different data protection rules, and how data subjects can exercise their rights in practice. The GDPR explicitly introduces the accountability principle, i.e. the controller shall be responsible for, and be able to demonstrate compliance with, the principles relating to processing of personal data in Article 5.

Moreover, the GDPR also introduces more specific rules on the use of processor(s) and some of the provisions on personal data processing are addressed – not only to controllers – but also to processors.

 It is therefore of paramount importance that the precise meaning of these concepts and the criteria for their correct use are sufficiently clear and shared throughout the European Union and the EEA.