Relevance of Information for the Applicability of Data Protection Law

Relevance of Information for the Applicability of Data Protection Law

For many years, the topic of data protection has increased in social and political significance: “Bundestrojaner”, an extended capacity for intelligence services and authorities, as well as the much-discussed data retention both prompt fears of a surveillance state which compromises the privacy of citizens.

Against the backdrop of this debate conducted in media and society, the PhD project aims to answer the question of the “rootedness” of the data protection law – not in a legal-historical way, but with regard to the circumstances which impinge on the law in this area. Which data are relevant at all? Is the idea of personal data the central “barrier” which has to be overcome in order to subject the information to the legal regime? Do other characteristics of the factual circumstances exist, which have to count as the “threshold for registration”, e.g. the location of storage? These questions will have to be answered according to international, and national law and that of the EU.


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Project Description

The EMRK forms the initial focus of attention. Its article 8, paragraph 1 guarantees respect for privacy, which connects to data protection in the member states of the Council of Europe; an explicit drafting can be found in the data protection convention. On the level of the European Union, the guideline on data protection forms the authoritative legal source.

In German data protection law, the Federal Constitutional Court takes a preeminent role, as, within the population census ruling of 1983, it did actually develop the right of informational self-determination, which is established in article 2, paragraph 1 and article 1, paragraph 1 of the German Basic Law (GG). At the beginning of 2008, it was updated in the form of the basic right to guaranteed confidentiality and integrity in technical information systems. What remains to be determined is the extent to which the national legislator is committed by international and European law and how this may affect, among others, the legal definitions in §§ 2, 3 of the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG).

Following the clarification of legal issues, it is intended to transfer the implications exemplarily onto current technologies such as passports and electronic health cards.

Project Information


Duration: 2008-2011

Involved persons

Thorsten Ihler

Third party

Cooperation Partner

Contact person


Thorsten Ihler



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