Group Privacy pp 197-224 | Cite as

Do Groups Have a Right to Protect Their Group Interest in Privacy and Should They? Peeling the Onion of Rights and Interests Protected Under Article 8 ECHR

  • Bart van der SlootEmail author
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 126)


Privacy is perhaps the most elusive of all human rights – difficult to define, dependent for its meaning on context, epoch, person and culture and contested ever since it was first formulated. One of the reasons is that privacy is at the same time both the most individual and the most general, the most personal and the most abstract of all human rights. The right to privacy under the ECHR originates in the doctrine simply prohibiting states to abuse their powers. Consequently, a right to complain about the abuse of power was granted not only to individuals, but also to legal persons, groups and states, as the value at stake with privacy violations was a societal interest. Gradually, under the interpretation of the ECtHR, the right to privacy has become more and more focused on natural persons and individual interests, so that groups and legal persons are in principle denied a right to complain under Article 8 ECHR. This paradigm has functioned relatively well for decades as most privacy violations were targeted at specific individuals. However, under the current technological paradigm, often referred to as big data, the threats to privacy increasingly do not materialize on an individual level, but on a general or group level. Should groups then be allowed to invoke a right to privacy to protect their own interest?


Group privacy Legal persons Privacy Data protection Rights Interests 


  1. Ahuja, A. 2011. The case for wrongful life: The children encouraged to sue for being born. New Scientist 212(2836).Google Scholar
  2. Allen, A. 1988. Uneasy access: Privacy for women in a free society. Totowa: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  3. Archard, D. 2004. Wrongful life. Philosophy 79(309): 403–420.Google Scholar
  4. Bloustein, E.J. 2003. Individual & group privacy, 2nd ed. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  5. Bygrave, L. 2002. Data protection law: Approaching its rationale, logic and limits. The Hague: Kluwer Law International.Google Scholar
  6. Colb, S.F. 2009. To whom do we refer when we speak of obligations to “future generations”? Reproductive rights and the intergenerational community. George Washington Law Review 77(5–6): 1582–1619.Google Scholar
  7. Davidson, M.D. 2008. Wrongful harm to future generations: the case of climate change. Environmental Values 17(4): 471–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Elshtain, J. 1991. Public man, private woman: Women in social and political thought. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Elshtain, J. 1995. Democracy on trial. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  10. Gaba, J.M. 1999. Environmental ethics and our moral relationship to future generations: Future rights and present value. Columbia Journal of Environmental Law 24(2): 249.Google Scholar
  11. Gillon, R. 1998. ‘Wrongful life’ claims. Journal of Medical Ethics 24(6): 363–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gosseries, A. 2008. On future generations’ future rights. Journal Of Political Philosophy 16(4): 446–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lerner, N. 1991. Group rights and discrimination in international law. Dordrecht: Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  14. MacKinnon, C. 1989. Toward a feminist theory of the state. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Mayor Zaragoza, F. 1996. The rights of future generations, UNESCO Courier, March, 1996.Google Scholar
  16. Pariser, E. 2011. The filter bubble: What the internet is hiding from you. London: Viking.Google Scholar
  17. Picker, E. 1995. Schadensersatz für das unerwünschte eigene Leben: “Wrongful life”. Tübingen: Mohr.Google Scholar
  18. Raikka, J., and J. Aikk. 1996. Do we need minority rights?: Conceptual issues. The Hague: Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  19. Robertson, G. 1982. Wrongful life. Modern Law Review 45(6): 697–701.Google Scholar
  20. Shrader‐frechette, K. 2000. Duties to future generations, proxy consent, intra‐ and intergenerational equity: The case of nuclear waste. Risk Analysis 20(6): 771–778.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Thaler, R., and C. Sunstein. 2009. Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness. New York: Penquin Books.Google Scholar
  22. Tomlinson, H. 2012. Positive obligations under the European convention on human rights, 2., 2.
  23. van der Sloot, B. 2014. Privacy in the post-NSA era: Time for a fundamental revision? JIPITEC 5(2014): 1.Google Scholar
  24. van der Sloot, B. 2015. Do privacy and data protection rules apply to legal persons and should they? A proposal for a two-tiered system. Computer Law & Security Review 31(1): 26–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. van der Sloot, B. 2016. Is the human rights framework still fit for the big data era? A discussion of the ECtHR’s case law on privacy violations arising from surveillance activities. In Data protection on the move, Law, governance and technology series, vol. 24, ed. S. Gutwirth et al. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  26. van der Sloot, B. Forthcoming a. Privacy as a personality right: Why the EctHR’s focus on ulterior interests might prove indispensable in the age of big data. Utrecht Journal of International and European Law 31: 25–50.Google Scholar
  27. van der Sloot, B. Forthcoming b. Privacy as virtue: Searching for a new privacy paradigm in the age of Big Data. In Räume und Kulturen des Privaten. Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  28. van Dijk, P., F. van Hoof, A. van Rijk, and L. Zwaak (eds.). 2006. Theory and practice of the European convention on human rights. Antwerpen: Intersentia.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology and SocietyTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations