Data Protection and Privacy: (In)visibilities and Infrastructures

Volume 36 of the series Law, Governance and Technology Series pp 3-30


Legal Fundamentalism: Is Data Protection Really a Fundamental Right?

  • Bart van der SlootAffiliated withTilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT), Tilburg University Email author 

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The European Union, in its texts and communications, has mostly avoided using the terms ‘natural rights’ and ‘human rights’, instead adopting the phrase ‘fundamental rights’. The question is, however, what this concept actually entails and whether, and if so, how it differs from the more classic understanding of human rights. This question is important because data protection has been disconnected from the right to privacy in EU legislation and has been coined a fundamental right itself. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union grants citizens the right to privacy in Article 7 and the right to data protection in Article 8. The question is what this means and whether protecting personal data should in fact be qualified as ‘fundamental’.