Article 7 - Respect for private and family life
Article 8 - Protection of personal data
Key facts of the case:
Request for a preliminary ruling from the Satversmes tiesa.
Reference for a preliminary ruling – Protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data – Regulation (EU) 2016/679 – Articles 5, 6 and 10 – National legislation providing for public access to personal data relating to penalty points imposed for road traffic offences – Lawfulness – Concept of ‘personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences’ – Disclosure for the purpose of improving road safety – Right of public access to official documents – Freedom of information – Reconciliation with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data – Re-use of data – Article 267 TFEU – Temporal effect of a preliminary ruling – Ability of a constitutional court of a Member State to maintain the legal effects of national legislation incompatible with EU law – Principles of primacy of EU law and of legal certainty.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby rules:
41) It observes, next, that penalty points are personal data and that, when assessing the right to respect for private life laid down in Article 96 of the Latvian Constitution, account is to be taken of the GDPR and, more generally, of Article 16 TFEU and Article 8 of the Charter.
51) Fourth, in the light of the Court of Justice’s case-law according to which the interpretation of EU law provided in preliminary rulings has erga omnes and ex tunc effects, the Latvijas Republikas Satversmes tiesa (Constitutional Court) is uncertain whether, if Article 141(2) of the Law on road traffic were to be incompatible with Article 96 of the Latvian Constitution, read in the light of the GDPR and the Charter, it could nevertheless maintain the temporal effects of Article 141(2) of that law until the date of delivery of its judgment, given the large number of legal relationships at issue.
74) In that regard, it is to be noted that Article 10 of the GDPR is intended to ensure enhanced protection as regards processing which, because of the particular sensitivity of the data at issue, is liable to constitute a particularly serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data, guaranteed by Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter (see, to that effect, judgment of 24 September 2019, GC and Others (De-referencing of sensitive data), C‑136/17, EU:C:2019:773, paragraph 44).
105) In that context, it should be borne in mind that the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data are not absolute rights, but must be considered in relation to their function in society and be weighed against other fundamental rights. Limitations may therefore be imposed, so long as, in accordance with Article 52(1) of the Charter, they are provided for by law, respect the essence of the fundamental rights and observe the principle of proportionality. Under the principle of proportionality, limitations may be made only if they are necessary and genuinely meet objectives of general interest recognised by the European Union or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others. They must apply only in so far as is strictly necessary and the legislation which entails the interference must lay down clear and precise rules governing the scope and application of the measure in question (see, to that effect, judgment of 16 July 2020, Facebook Ireland and Schrems, C‑311/18, EU:C:2020:559, paragraphs 172 to 176).
110) As recital 39 of the GDPR makes clear, that requirement of necessity is not met where the objective of general interest pursued can reasonably be achieved just as effectively by other means less restrictive of the fundamental rights of data subjects, in particular the rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data guaranteed in Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter, since derogations and limitations in relation to the principle of protection of such data must apply only in so far as is strictly necessary (see, to that effect, judgment of 11 December 2019, Asociaţia de Proprietari bloc M5A-ScaraA, C‑708/18, EU:C:2019:1064, paragraphs 46 and 47).