- Protecting individuals against the negative impact of big data
- The potential and limitations of the privacy and data protection law approach
- Award date
- 1 February 2018
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
This thesis is about the protection of individuals against the negative impact that big data may have on their private lives. Many positive and promising developments result from big data, but the massive collection and use of data also raise a host of issues. In the European Union, the rights to privacy and to data protection are the focal point in the discussion of the dark side of big data for individuals. They are perceived as being both the primary rights at risk, as well as the solution to the problems that big data creates.
This thesis acknowledges the importance of the rights to privacy and data protection, but argues that this perspective is too narrow. The effects of big data on the lives of individuals transcend privacy and data protection. By conceptualising big data as a process that consists of the acquisition and analysis of (personal) data and the application of the outcomes thereof, it finds that the potential consequences may also be particularly severe for personal autonomy, freedom of expression, and non-discrimination.
EU data protection law is analysed to see to what protection it offers to the rights to privacy and to data protection, and to assess the extent to which it (indirectly) protects these other individual rights and freedoms. The conclusion is that data protection law offers a high but insufficient level of protection. Many of big data’s negative consequences for individual rights and freedoms turn out to be beyond the scope of the rights to privacy and data protection. This thesis therefore concludes that to protect individuals’ rights and freedoms, it is necessary to look beyond the privacy and data protection approach. The only way to resolve the problems arising from big data is an integrated approach that consists of legal solutions that complement each other, and reflects the multi-faceted nature of the problem at hand.
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