New first point of reference for revised data protection rules

The European Union and the Council of Europe have reviewed their legal frameworks for the protection of personal data to keep pace with changes in this fast-moving area. Building on the popular practical handbook on European data protection law, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the Council of Europe and the European Data Protection Supervisor have just published an update as the EU’s new data protection rules take effect and the modernised text of the Council of Europe’s Convention 108 has just been adopted.

The reformed data protection rules are a game changer for regulators, for business and for users,” says FRA Director, Michael O’Flaherty. “This new handbook is an invaluable guide for everyone involved with data protection to help them respect the enhanced rights’ protection that these new rules bring.

The new EU and Council of Europe data protection frameworks converge towards a high level of protection at global level,” says the Council of Europe’s Human Rights and Rule of Law Director General, Christos Giakoumopoulos. “This handbook is a must-have for anyone interested in data protection, an area which should nowadays matter for all of us.

Data protection’s basic proposition is simple: if you seek to derive value by processing someone’s personal information, then you have a number of important responsibilities towards the persons affected,” says the European Data Protection Supervisor Giovanni Buttarelli (EDPS). “I hope this revised Handbook will prove an essential vademecum for navigating a complex area of law.

The handbook on European data protection law is a comprehensive guide to European law in this area. This new version contains recent examples of relevant case law with hypothetical scenarios that serve as practical illustrations of the diverse issues encountered in this ever-evolving field.

This handbook is designed to assist legal practitioners who are not specialists in data protection law to introduce them to the key issues. It is aimed at lawyers, judges, prosecutors as well as non-governmental organisations and other practitioners who may be confronted with legal questions related to data protection. The handbook will also serve as a practical tool for specialists, including data protection authorities (DPAs).

It seeks to raise awareness and improve knowledge of relevant standards set by the European Union and the Council of Europe, particularly through case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights. Where relevant, it also refers to other Council of Europe instruments and the international UN perspective related to data protection.

The publication explains the context, background and rules of European data protection law. It outlines data protection terminology, independent oversight, people’s rights and how these rights are enforced, as well as issues related to cross-border transfers of personal data. It also looks at data protection when it comes to police and criminal justice as well as the data protection rules in others areas such as health and finance.

In addition, it touches on modern challenges in personal data protection posed by advances in artificial intelligence, the use of big data, social networks and smart devices, the so-called Internet of things, etc.

The handbook is available in English. Other language versions will follow.

The first edition was published in 2014 with over 400,000 downloads to date. It complements other legal handbooks prepared by FRA in cooperation with the Council of Europe covering access to justice, non-discrimination, child rights, as well as asylum, migration and borders.