Data protection & privacy

Safeguarding the security of its citizens whilst guaranteeing fundamental rights is a key issue for the EU. As an EU agency, data protection and privacy are important thematic areas of FRA’s work.

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.

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Conference focuses on rights and the internet

On 13-14 March, FRA presented the results of the FRA report on access to data protection remedies in EU Member States at a conference in Graz on ‘Shaping the Digital Environment – Ensuring our Rights on the Internet’.

More to be done to ensure respect for fundamental rights in EU, says FRA Director

While the European Union has achieved a great deal in the area of fundamental rights, the violations that take place demonstrate the fact that there is still much to be done, FRA Director Morten Kjaerum said at an international conference entitled What Europe stands for. Growth, jobs and rights: will the European Union rise to the occasion? on 14 March 2014 in Rome.

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Handbook on European data protection case law

FRA will produce a handbook, in partnership with the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which will present and explain European data protection law in a straightforward way for those working in this area.

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Handbook on European data protection law

This handbook is designed to familiarise legal practitioners who are not specialised in the field of data protection with this area of law. It provides an overview of the EU’s and the CoE’s applicable legal frameworks.

Access to data protection remedies in EU Member States

Technological advances make it ever more important to safeguard the right to personal data, which is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Data protection violations arise principally from internet‑based activities, direct marketing and video surveillance, perpetrated by, for example, government bodies or financial and health institutions, research by the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) shows.