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Publication date:27 January 2014

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.


The project looks at existing procedures and the legal consequences concerning data protection violations in all EU Member States. The findings will provide insights about why available redress mechanisms in the area of data protection are not used to the full extent that they could be. Using both desk and fieldwork based research, the project aims to capture the experiences and views of the main actors concerned – focusing on experiences in selected EU Member States – with regard to the application and use of redress mechanisms.  


Recent studies, including special Eurobarometer surveys and the agency’s own report on data protection authorities, have highlighted that redress mechanisms in the area of data protection are available but little used.  At present there is insufficient information at EU level about individuals’ access to redress mechanisms that would allow an in-depth understanding of the situation, and which could provide some insights about what measures are needed to improve use of and access to redress. 


The project involves legal and social fieldwork research. The legal component maps current provisions with respect to relevant legislation and redress mechanisms concerning data protection at the Member State level. The fieldwork component involves qualitative interviews with complainants as well as those who decided not to take a complaint further, as well as judges working in this area. Focus group discussions also took place with members of staff from data protection authorities, as well as with legal practitioners and other intermediaries working on data protection.