Does the EU Data Protection Regime Protect Post-Mortem Privacy and What Could Be the Potential Alternatives?

Edina Harbinja

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Abstract

This article aims to shed some light on post-mortem privacy, a phenomenon rather neglected in the legal literature. Acknowledging the quite controversial nature of the phenomenon and certain policy and legal arguments pro and contra, the paper explores the data protection (informational privacy) aspect of the issue. More precisely, the focus is on the distinction between the current and the newly proposed data protection regime in the European Union (EU), assessing how these regimes are susceptible to protecting the deceased’s personal data. The paper will note the differences between the proposed text of the Data Protection Regulation Proposal and subsequent amendments. Moreover, the paper will assess which solutions are more suitable to enable incorporation of the post-mortem privacy in the data protection regime, acknowledging the overall lack of certainty regarding the finalisation of the Regulation’s content. In so doing, this paper aims to detect elements in the new regime that seem to be promoting, at least theoretically, the propertisation of personal data, while partly disregarding its human rights basis. Having this assumption in mind and noting the difference between property, liability and contracts regimes (e.g. transmission on death), it will be argued that the new regime, at least in theory, could be perceived as promoting post-mortem privacy and, under certain circumstances, enabling better control of deceased people’s personal data. The paper, however, does not support this change and suggests that post-mortem privacy should be contemplated within the human rights-based regime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-38
JournalSCRIPT-ed
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Data Protection
  • EU
  • property rights
  • post-mortem privacy

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