I am a software developer with some basic knowledge of the GDPR. I asked Chat GPT what the benefits are of temporal tables in SQL Server for GDPR Compliance. Is Chat GPT 4 right? And what could be alternatives for temporal tables having the same legal benefits?

Of course! Here's the translated answer regarding the benefits of Temporal Tables in SQL Server in relation to GDPR compliance:

Temporal Tables in SQL Server offer a system for automatically tracking the full history of data changes within a database. This has various benefits, some of which are especially relevant for compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union. Here are some benefits of Temporal Tables in relation to GDPR:

  1. Right of access by the data subject (Article 15): With Temporal Tables, organizations can more easily demonstrate what has happened to personal data over time. This can be useful when an individual requests an overview of their personal data and how it has been processed.
  1. Right to rectification (Article 16): If incorrect data is discovered, organizations can not only correct the data but also demonstrate when and how the error occurred and when it was rectified.
  1. Right to erasure ('right to be forgotten') (Article 17): While Temporal Tables maintain a history of data changes, they can also be configured to delete old data after a certain period. This can help meet the right to be forgotten while still complying with other data retention requirements.
  1. Right to restriction of processing (Article 18): In cases where processing needs to be restricted, organizations can show that data has not been changed or accessed during a specific period.
  1. Accountability (Article 5(2)): A core principle of the GDPR is that organizations must be able to demonstrate compliance. Temporal Tables provide a mechanism for doing this as they offer an audit trail of what has happened to data.
  1. Data integrity and confidentiality (Article 5(1)(f)): With Temporal Tables, organizations can demonstrate that data has been maintained accurately and that changes have been recorded in a transparent manner.
  1. Recovery of personal data after an incident (Article 32(1)(c)): In the event of a security incident, Temporal Tables can aid in restoring data to a known good state, as they retain the history of data changes.

It's important to note that while Temporal Tables can be helpful for GDPR compliance, they are just one tool in a larger data protection program. They should be used in conjunction with other technologies, policies, and procedures to ensure full compliance.

  • 9
    I am not going to take apart AI generated content word by word. It's a mixture of correct words, strung together by an AI that has no idea of what is correct and what is not. Yes, it is close. You can bullshit your way through a meeting with clueless business people with this. But if you look at it closely, it comes apart as the thing it is: generated content that is amazing at looking "about right". Don't rely on "looks about right" in your professional work please.
    – nvoigt
    Sep 4, 2023 at 15:12
  • 4
    You can be 100% compliant without ever having heard of temporal tables (or alternatively doing the same thing yourself without the buzzword). If you have an actual question that is less broad then "is that autogenerated pile of words correct" (hint: no, on so many levels...), please feel free to ask it.
    – nvoigt
    Sep 4, 2023 at 15:15
  • 1
    Half of it is bovine excrement in details, especially as they use temporal as edit-timestamped, and anyone with a modicum of database knowledge would just alter the database source, bypassing the timestamps of the program.
    – Trish
    Sep 4, 2023 at 15:45
  • 4
    Hallucination is a real thing and is a problem. The problem being that any ChatGPT response is simply a statistically generated list of words that it extracted from its training corpus based on what you asked it. ChatGPT has no actual understanding of what it is saying, and hence you need to take its resonses with a block (not grain) of salt.
    – Peter M
    Sep 4, 2023 at 17:21

1 Answer 1


I am a software developer with some basic knowledge of the GDPR. I asked Chat GPT what the benefits are of temporal tables in SQL Server for GDPR Compliance.

Why? Sounds like a bad idea to start.

Is Chat GPT 4 right?

No, it is wrong in basically every single point there. And I am not going to pick it apart word by word. If you want to be a GDPR compliant developer, your company is required to give you training on this issue. At least if it is within it's juristiction. Go get proper professional training, then come back and pick it apart yourself.

And what could be alternatives for temporal tables having the same legal benefits?

ChatGPT "hallucinated" (that is the nice word to say it lied straight to your face) almost all of the benefits. Many of them are dead wrong, some are just nice benefits with no legal relevance at all.

Since temporal tables don't have any legal benefit related to the GDPR, there are no alternatives "with the same benefits". Or if you want to, almost anything is an alternative with the same legal benefits. Get a brick. I prefer them classic red, but you can pick any color you like. That is a proper alternative with the same legal benefits concerning the GDPR as temporal tables.

  • I'm afraid Microsoft disagrees with you as they explain temporal tables do have a benefit related to the GDPR. I guess they have the expertise to know that. But I would like to know some more details. download.microsoft.com/documents/en-gb/…
    – Daan
    Sep 4, 2023 at 16:23
  • @Daan Which part of that document explains Temporal Tables have a benefit related to GDPR?
    – Lag
    Sep 4, 2023 at 17:34
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    @nvoigt: Can you please explain your reasoning on at least one point? The answers given by ChatGPT do not sound so wrong to me. Keeping a history of changes seems to be a reasonable solution to prove who changed what and when.
    – PMF
    Sep 4, 2023 at 18:57
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    @PMF while maybe nice for the company or the customer, that is not a legal requirement at all. The legal requirement is making sure the data is correct now. The law says nothing about whether you must know what it was yesterday or when or by whom it was changed (assuming those changed cam from the customer or from within your own company, which would be a completely different level of security to ensure that). If it is incorrect now, the law requires you to change it. If it is correct now, then you fulfilled the legal requirement.
    – nvoigt
    Sep 5, 2023 at 5:45
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    @Daan Given that it is a single mention with no specifics, I would say the experts at Microsoft know more about selling their product than I do. That is not legal advice, Microsoft does not trade in legal advice. It is a sales pitch for their software product. "Buying this might also help" is about as legally valid as saying "giving your DBA a pack of smokes helps with processing data". I cannot prove that wrong, can I? Maybe it even does for your DBA. But there is nothing in the law about it.
    – nvoigt
    Sep 5, 2023 at 5:48

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