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.

Those victimised seek redress primarily to ensure that similar violations do not recur. This FRA socio‑legal project, which offers an analysis of the 28 EU Member States’ data protection regimes and of interviews with relevant parties in 16 Member States, highlights the challenges people face when seeking such remedies. It finds that only a few are aware of their right to data protection and that there is a lack of legal expertise in the field. 

Those who do file complaints typically address their national data protection authorities, but these often suffer from a lack of resources and powers. The findings provide evidence to inform and contribute to the European Union’s efforts to comprehensively reform and enhance the EU’s data protection regime.