Data protection law - An Introduction



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Welcome to!

There is much talk about the crisis of data protection legislation in Europe. I've been dealing with data protection law for ten years. I can still recall the atmosphere in the late 90s that was pervasive in the office led by the first data protection commissioner of Hungary. We were enthusiastic: our task was to make a new constitutional right known to the public. We were more members of a workshop, champions of the new constitutional right, than mere bureaucrats.

I am no longer involved in that work: for six years I've been helping my clients - companies and goverment agencies - in complying with data protection law, and sometimes I have the opportunity to contribute to the creation of legal instruments with data protection relevance. Standing on the "other side", my perspective is not the same, of course. From this point of view one can see what is hidden to civil servants: how hard it is - even with great efforts - to apply legal texts that have deficiencies, how important it is to formulate coherent, acceptable and consistent interpretations in this field of law, and what the results (and costs) are of a given decision by the data protection authority. On the "other side" one can think more freely and can ask questions such as Do laws based on informational self-determination effectively protect privacy?, Is an institution that is organized according to the ombudsman model the best one to control compliance with data protection law? The answer is not necessarily "no" - but the arguments raised by the skeptics of data protection are sometimes worth considering.

Is data protection in crisis? Is informational self-determination just a toy for constitutional lawyers or the upper middle class? Can it be reinvented to meet the challenges of the information age?

These questions are yet to be answered. My aim with this project - - is to carry out a comparative analysis of European data protection legislations, that can help the data protection community of Europe to answer them.

András Jóri

Page last modified on April 06, 2007, at 06:53 PM
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