The Golden Age of Personal Data: How to Regulate an Enabling Fundamental Right?

  • Manon OostveenEmail author
  • Kristina IrionEmail author
Part of the MPI Studies on Intellectual Property and Competition Law book series (MSIP, volume 28)


New technologies, purposes and applications to process individuals’ personal data are being developed on a massive scale. But we have not only entered the ‘golden age of personal data’ in terms of its exploitation: ours is also the ‘golden age of personal data’ in terms of regulation of its use. In this contribution, we investigate what the objective of fundamental rights protection is as regards privacy and data protection. Understood as an enabling right, the architecture of EU data protection law is capable of protecting against many of the negative short- and long-term effects of contemporary data processing. Against the backdrop of big data applications, we evaluate how the implementation of privacy and data protection rules protect against the short- and long-term effects of contemporary data processing. We conclude that from the perspective of protecting individual fundamental rights and freedoms, it would be worthwhile to explore alternative (legal) approaches instead of relying on EU data protection law alone to cope with contemporary data processing.


Privacy Data protection Enabling fundamental rights Big data General Data Protection Regulation Automated decision making and profiling 


  1. Acquisti, A. (2010), The Economics of Personal Data and the Economics of Privacy, Background Paper for OECD Joint WPISP-WPIE Roundtable, 1 December 2010, ParisGoogle Scholar
  2. Barocas, S. / Nissenbaum, H. (2014), Big Data’s End Run Around Procedural Privacy Protections: Recognizing the inherent limitations of consent and anonymity, 31, Communications of the ACMGoogle Scholar
  3. Barocas, S. / Selbst, A. (2016), Big Data’s Disparate Impact, 104 California Law Review 671Google Scholar
  4. Bernal, P. (2014), Internet Privacy Rights: Rights to Protect Autonomy, Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  5. Bublitz, J.C. (2014), Freedom of Thought in the Age of Neuroscience, 100 Archives for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy 1Google Scholar
  6. Bygrave, L. / Schartum, D.W. (2009), Consent, proportionality and collective power, in: P. de Hert / Y. Poullet / S. Gutwirth / (Eds.), Reinventing Data Protection?, SpringerGoogle Scholar
  7. Calders, T. / Custers, B. (2013), What Is Data Mining and How Does It Work?, in: B. Custers / T. Calders / B. Schermer / T. Zarsky (Eds.), Discrimination and Privacy in the Information Society: Data Mining and Profiling in Large Databases, SpringerGoogle Scholar
  8. Cate, F.H. / Mayer-Schönberger, V. (2013), Notice and consent in a world of Big Data, 3 International Data Privacy Law 67, available at: 3/2/67/709124/Notice-and-consent-in-a-world-of-Big-DataGoogle Scholar
  9. Custers, B. (2013), Data Dilemmas in the Information Society: Introduction and Overview, in: Discrimination and Privacy in the Information Society: Data Mining and Profiling in Large Databases, SpringerGoogle Scholar
  10. Custers, B. / Calders, T. / Schermer, B. / Zarsky, T. (Eds.) (2013), Discrimination and Privacy in the Information Society: Data Mining and Profiling in Large Databases, SpringerGoogle Scholar
  11. Dammann, U. / Simitis, S. (1997), EG-Datenschutzrichtlinie: Kommentar, NomosGoogle Scholar
  12. Dworkin, G. (1988), The Theory and Practice of Autonomy, Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  13. González Fuster, G. (2014), The Emergence of Personal Data Protection as a Fundamental Right of the EU, SpringerGoogle Scholar
  14. Harris, D. / O’Boyle, M. / Bates, E. / Buckley, C. (2014), Harris, O’Boyle & Warbrick: Law of the European Convention on Human Rights, Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  15. Hildebrandt, M. (2008), Defining profiling: a new type of knowledge?, in: M. Hildebrandt / S. Gutwirth (Eds.), Profiling the European Citizen: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives, SpringerGoogle Scholar
  16. Irion, K. / Luchetta, G. (2013), Online Personal Data Processing and the EU Data Protection Reform, Centre for European Policy Studies, available at:
  17. Koffeman, N. (2010), (The right to) personal autonomy in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, Leiden UniversityGoogle Scholar
  18. Krotoszynski, R. (2016), Privacy Revisited: A Global Perspective on the Right to be Left Alone, Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  19. Lynskey, O. (2014), Deconstructing Data Protection: The “Added-Value” of a Right to Data Protection in the EU Legal Order, International and Comparative Law Quarterly 569Google Scholar
  20. O’Neil, C. (2016), Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, CrownGoogle Scholar
  21. Oostveen, M.A.A. (2016), Identifiability and the applicability of data protection to big data, 6 International Data Privacy Law 299, available at:
  22. Pariser, E. (2012), The Filter Bubble, Penguin BooksGoogle Scholar
  23. Rainey, B. / Wicks, E. / Clare, O. (2014), Jacobs, White and Ovey: The European Convention on Human Rights, Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  24. Reh, H.J. (1978), Kommentar zum Bundesdatenschutzgesetz, in: S. Simitis / U. Dammann / O. Mallmann / H.J. Reh (Eds.), Kommentar zum Bundesdatenschutzgesetz, NomosGoogle Scholar
  25. Richards, N. (2015), Intellectual Privacy: Rethinking Civil Liberties in the Digital Age, Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  26. Richards, N. (2012), The Dangers of Surveillance, 126 Harvard Law Review 1934Google Scholar
  27. Richards, N. / King, J. (2013), Three Paradoxes of Big Data, 66 Stanford Law Review 41Google Scholar
  28. Roberts, J.L. (2015), Protecting Privacy to Prevent Discrimination, 56 William and Mary Law Review 2097Google Scholar
  29. Rössler, B. (2005), The Value of Privacy, Polity PressGoogle Scholar
  30. Rouvroy, A. (2016), Of Data And Men: Fundamental Rights and Freedoms in a World of Big Data, Bureau of the Consultative Committee of the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data [ETS 108]Google Scholar
  31. Solove, D.J. (2013), Privacy Self-Management and the Consent Dilemma, 126 Harvard Law Review 1880Google Scholar
  32. Solove, D.J. (2008), Understanding privacy, Harvard University PressGoogle Scholar
  33. Solove, D.J. (2006), A Taxonomy of Privacy, 154 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tene, O. / Polonetsky, J. (2013), Big Data for All: Privacy and User Control in the Age of Analytics, 11 Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property 239Google Scholar
  35. Tzanou, M. (2013), Data protection as a fundamental right next to privacy? “Reconstructing” a not so new right, 2 International Data Privacy Law 88, available at:
  36. Whitman, J.Q. (2004), The Two Western Cultures of Privacy: Dignity versus Liberty, 113 Yale Law Journal 1151Google Scholar
  37. Zuiderveen Borgesius, F.J. / Trilling, D. / Möller, J. / Bodó, B. / de Vreese, C.H. / Helberger, N. (2016), Should we worry about filter bubbles?, 5 Internet Policy ReviewGoogle Scholar

Additional Sources

  1. Herpel, W. (2016), Chaotische Studienplatzvergabe sorgt für Frust, Spiegel Online of 26 June 2016, available at:
  2. OECD (2015), Data-Driven Innovation: Big Data for Growth and Well-Being, OECD PublishingGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Information Law, University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations