Legal Fundamentalism: Is Data Protection Really a Fundamental Right?

Part of the Law, Governance and Technology Series book series (LGTS, volume 36)


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’.


European Union Personal Data Data Protection Fundamental Freedom Data Protection Directive 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Alston, Philip (ed). 1999. The EU and Human Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Burkert, Herbert. 1983. Freedom of Information and Data Protection. Bonn: Gesellschaft für Mathematik und Datenverarbeitung.Google Scholar
  3. Costa, Luiz & Yves Poullet. 2012. Privacy and the regulation of 2012. Computer Law & Security Review, 28 (2012).Google Scholar
  4. Dammann, Ulrich, Otto Mallmann & Spiros Simitis (eds). 1977. Data Protection Legislation: An International Documentation: Engl.–German: eine internationale Dokumentation = Die Gesetzgebung zum Datenschutz. Frankfurt am Main: Metzner.Google Scholar
  5. Dicey, A.V. Lectures on comparative constitutionalism (Oxford, Oxford University Press 2013).Google Scholar
  6. Douglas-Scott, Sionaidh. 2011. The European Union and Human Rights after the Treaty of Lisbon’, 11 Human Rights Law Review 645 (2011).Google Scholar
  7. Eleftheriadis, Pavlos. 2008. Legal Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Pres.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. EU Network of Independent experts in fundamental rights. 2003. Report on the Situation of fundamental rights in the European Union and its member States in 2002. Luxembourg: European Communities.Google Scholar
  9. Fabbrini, Federico. 2014. Fundamental Rights in Europe: challenges and transformations in comparative perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fagan, Andrew. Human rights: confronting myths and misunderstandings (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar 2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Finnis, John. Natural law and natural right (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1980)Google Scholar
  12. Freeman, Michael. Human rights: an interdisciplinary approach (Cambridge: Malden 2011).Google Scholar
  13. Gonzalez Fuster, Gloria. 2014. The emergence of personal data protection as a fundamental right of the EU. Springer: Dordrecht.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gonzalez Fuster, Gloria & Raphael Gellert. 2012. The fundamental right of data protection in the European Union: in search of an uncharted right. International Review of Law, Computers & Technology 26 (2012).Google Scholar
  15. Gellert, Raphael & Serge Gutwirth. 2013. The legal construction of privacy and data protection. Computer Law & Security Review 29 (2013).Google Scholar
  16. Hardt, Sascha & A. W. Heringa (eds.), Sources of constitutional law: constitutions and fundamental legislative provisions from the United States, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, including the ECHR and EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (Cambridge: Intersentia 2014).Google Scholar
  17. Heffernan, Liz. (ed.), Human rights: a European perspective (Dublin: The Round Hall Press 1994).Google Scholar
  18. Heringa, A. W. & Philipp Kiiver, Constitutions compared: an introduction to comparative constitutional law (Cambridge: Portland 2012).Google Scholar
  19. Hijmans, Hielke. 2016. The European Union as a Constitutional Guardian of Internet Privacy and Data Protection: the Story of Article 16 TFEU. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Dissertation.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hondius, Frits W. 1975. Emerging Data Protection in Europe. Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  21. Jackson, Vicki C. & Mark Tushnet, Comparative constitutional law. (St. Paul: Foundation Press 2014).Google Scholar
  22. Kokott, Juliane & Christoph Sobotta. 2013. The distinction between privacy and data protection in the jurisprudence of the CJEU and the ECtHR. International Data Privacy Law 3 (2013).Google Scholar
  23. Lynskey, Orla. 2014. Deconstructing data protection: the ‘added-value’ of a right to data protection in the EU legal order. International and Comparative Law Quarterly 3 (2014).Google Scholar
  24. Mendelson, M. H. 1981. The European Court of Justice and Human Rights. Yearbook of European Law, 125 (1981).Google Scholar
  25. Moerel, Lokke. 2012. Binding Corporate Rules Corporate Self-Regulation of Global Data Transfers. Oxford, Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Murphy, Walter F. & Joseph Tanenhaus, Comparative constitutional law: cases and commentaries (London: Macmillan 1977).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Newhall, A. & A. Rosas (eds.). 1995. The European Union and Human Rights. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  28. Perrot, David L. 1973. ‘The logic of Fundamental Rights’, in: John W. Bridge et al. (eds.). Fundamental Rights. London: Sweet & Maxwell.Google Scholar
  29. Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation). Scholar
  30. Ritchie, David George. Natural rights: a criticism of some political and ethical conceptions (London 1895)Google Scholar
  31. Robinson, Nehemiah. 1958. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: its origin, significance, application, and interpretation. New York: World Jewish Congress.Google Scholar
  32. Rosenfeld, Michel & András Sajó, The Oxford handbook of comparative constitutional law (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2012).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sloot, Bart van der. Do data protection rules protect the individual and should they? An assessment of the proposed General Data Protection Regulation, International Data Privacy Law, 4 (2014).Google Scholar
  34. Sloot, Bart van der. 2015. Privacy as 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, 80 (2015).Google Scholar
  35. Sloot, Bart van der. ‘The Practical and Theoretical Problems with ‘balancing’: Delfi, Coty and the redundancy of the human rights framework’, Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law, 3 (2016).Google Scholar
  36. Symonides, Janusz. (ed.) Human rights: international protection, monitoring, enforcement (Paris: UNESCO Pub. 2003)Google Scholar
  37. Toth, Akos G. 1997. The European Union and Human Rights: the Way Forward. Common Market Law Review, 34 (1997).Google Scholar
  38. Tomuschat, Christian. Human rights: between idealism and realism (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2014).Google Scholar
  39. Tuck, Richard. Natural rights theories: their origin and development (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1979).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. UN, Human rights: questions and answers (New York: United Nations 1987). Google Scholar
  41. Varju, Marton. 2014. European Union Human Rights law: the dynamics of interpretation and context. Northampton: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Verdoodt, Albert. 1964. Naissance et signification de la Déclaration Universelle des droits de L’Homme. Louvain: Warny.Google Scholar
  43. Westin, Allan F. & Michael A. Baker. 1972. Databanks in a Free Society: Computers, Record-keeping and Privacy. New York: The New York Times Book.Google Scholar
  44. Williams, Andrew. 2004. EU Human Rights Policies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT)Tilburg UniversityTilburgNetherlands

Personalised recommendations