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Regulatory Acknowledgment of Individual Autonomy in European Digital Legislation: From Meta-Principle to Explicit Protection in the Data Act


Maximilian Gartner


This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Licence Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

Individual autonomy has been explicitly recognized in the European Union’s 2022 Data Act proposal. This article shows that such unprecedented inclusion of autonomy in an EU regulatory framework targeting the digital domain marks a paradigm shift for digital-sector legislation away from mostly tacit recognition of autonomy as a meta-principle to a more aggressive regulatory posture. It contextualizes this nascent development by highlighting the turn towards the protection of mental privacy in recent sector-relevant legislation and investigates the intent and scope of Article 6 of the Data Act proposal in light of an increasing regulatory focus on so-called dark patterns.
Keywords: Individual Autonomy | European Digital Legislation | Data Act | Article 6

Maximilian Gartner, PhD Candidate, University of Bologna | KU Leuven | Mykolas Romeris University. For correspondence: <> | <>, project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie ITN EJD ‘Law, Science and Technology Rights of Internet of Everything’ grant agreement No 814177.


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