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Impact of the Right of Access on the Balance Between Security and Fundamental Rights:

Informational Power as a Tool to Watch the Watchers

Katherine Quezada-Tavárez


This paper discusses data-driven security practices and the role played by data protection rules in the balance between security and the protection of fundamental rights. Emphasis is placed on the effectiveness of the right of access as a potential tool for informational power at the disposal of citizens, also in the context of security. While the role of the right of access in the general data protection regime has been widely investigated, the impact of data subject empowerment measures in a security context has received little scholarly attention. This article examines to what extent can the right of access under the Law Enforcement Directive and the Passenger Name Record Directive be instrumental in the information empowerment of citizens, thus helping reduce power and information asymmetries in this context. It concludes that the right of access may contribute to the enhancement of citizen empowerment in terms of increasing the transparency and accountability of security-related activities and, hence, can operate as a tool for citizens to ‘watch the watchers’.
Keywords: Right of Access | Data Protection | Law Enforcement Directive | PNR Directive | Informational Power

Katherine Quezada-Tavárez, KU Leuven Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP). For correspondence: <>.


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