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The Court of Justice as a Key Player in Privacy and Data Protection:

An Overview of Recent Trends in Case Law at the Start of a New Era of Data Protection Law

DOI https://doi.org/10.21552/edpl/2019/3/6

Christopher Docksey, Hielke Hijmans


In this article we discuss the main trends in the recent case law of the CJEU, following the three landmark cases of Digital Rights Ireland, Google Spain, and Schrems. The CJEU has followed a broad approach to scope and a strict approach to exceptions, ensuring that where personal information is processed there will be one or more controllers who will be accountable for such processing. The Court has also recognised that data protection requires a balancing with other fundamental rights such as freedom of expression, and has followed a common sense approach that allows personal information to be processed in a proportionate manner for legitimate purposes. We conclude that the case law has had a positive impact on the data protection legal framework and that the CJEU is likely to maintain its approach in order to ensure that the GDPR is fully effective.
Keywords: Case Law, CJEU, Accountability, Fundamental Rights, GDPR

Christopher Docksey, Hon Director General, European Data Protection Supervisor; Member of the Guernsey Data Protection Authority; Visiting Fellow, European Centre on Privacy and Cybersecurity, Faculty of Law, University of Maastricht. The views expressed are solely those of the author. For correspondence: <mailto:christopher.docksey@maastrichtuniversity.nl>. Hielke Hijmans, Member of the Executive Committee and President of the Litigation Chamber of the Belgian Data Protection Authority; Researcher, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)/Brussels Privacy Hub; Member, Meijers Committee (The Netherlands). The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Belgian Data Protection Authority. For correspondence: <mailto:hielke.hijmans@gmail.com>. This article elaborates on research by the authors for a Webinar on Recent and Upcoming Decisions of the European Court of Justice regarding EU data protection, organised by the Centre for Information Policy Leadership on 20 June 2018.

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