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FRA helps the EU to find the right balance between security and fundamental rights. It does this by examining data protection measures for their compliance with other fundamental rights, such as non-discrimination. Through its socio-legal approach to data collection, the agency carries out research that encompasses both fieldwork and legal analysis of data protection and related fundamental rights issues. The results of our research serve to inform both policy makers and practitioners working on these issues.
Historically, the EU has played a crucial role in driving the development and introduction of national data protection law in a number of legal systems in which such legislation was not previously in place. A 1995 EU directive on the protection of individuals regarding the processing of personal data and the free movement of such data was a vital instrument in this respect. More recently, the Commission introduced proposals in 2012 for the most far-reaching reform of data protection legislation in the EU since 1995.
Data protection is a fundamental right enshrined in Article 8 of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is distinct from the respect for private and family life contained in Article 7. This feature sets the EU Charter apart from other major human rights documents which, for the most part, treat the protection of personal data as an extension of the right to privacy.