Federico Fabbrini, The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Rights to Data Privacy: The EU Court of Justice as a Human Rights Court (March 10, 2015). Forthcoming in Sybe de Vries (ed), Five Years of Legally Binding Charter of Fundamental Rights (Oxford, Hart Publishing, 2015); iCourts Working Paper Series, No. 19. Available at SSRN
The paper examines the recent case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the rights to data privacy – broadly intended to refer to the rights protecting (inter)action by individuals in the digital world. As the paper argues the ECJ has dramatically expanded the protection of the rights data privacy, drawing on the legally binding Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU) to ensure a leading degree of protection in the field. As revealed by the analysis of several recent ECJ’s rulings reviewing compliance with data privacy rights by the EU member states, the EU political branches of government as well as by private corporations, the ECJ has vested with confidence the role of a human rights court in the area of data privacy, holding inter alia that data subjects have a fundamental right to be protected against systematic retention of personal data for law enforcement purposes, and a right to request removal of data about them from on-line search engines. However, as the paper suggests, the jurisprudence of the ECJ, by being at the forefront of legal developments on digital technology, has also raised a number of challenges. While the ECJ has so far promoted an uncompromising view of the rights of data privacy, its case law has left open some key questions which will need to be addressed in the near future.