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Data protection


The right to protection of personal data is a fundamental right. It is different from, but closely linked to, the right to respect for private and family life. This distinction is notably made in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights - which mentions the two rights separately, although next to each other in Articles 7 and 8.

Data protection is highly developed in the EU. The central piece of legislation is Directive 95/46/EC , which regulates the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and the free movement of such data. Implemented into national laws, the Directive applies to all EU Member States as well as to Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 lays down the same rights and obligations, but on the level of the EU institutions and bodies. It also establishes the EDPS as independent supervisory authority with the task of ensuring that the Regulation is complied with.

Citizens who feel that their rights have been infringed should contact the competent data protection authority, at national or European level.

As this is a specialised field, some useful information is available in the glossary, and the Q&A section of this website. This may also be helpful for those who want to know more about the obligations they need to comply with.

  • 23 September 2016

    The coherent enforcement of fundamental rights in the age of Big Data. Read the Opinion and press statement

  • 22 September 2016

    Migration, security and fundamental rights: A critical challenge for the EU. Read the Opinions and the press release.

  • 08 September 2016

    Accountability needs technology! - read the latest blogpost by Wojciech Wiewiórowski.

  • 17 August 2016

    The EDPS, in collaboration with European consumer organisation BEUC, is hosting a joint conference on Big Data: individual rights and smart enforcement. The conference will take place in Brussels on 29 September 2016. For more information on the conference and how to register, visit the EDPS Events page.

  • 05 August 2016

    Our IT services are undergoing scheduled maintenance from 12 to 15 August. Please note that, for technical reasons, we cannot guarantee that the complaints and annexed files submitted during this period will reach us - despite a possible acknowledgement of receipt. Should you not receive any acknowledgement of receipt within 10 working days from submitting your complaint, please do let us know.

  • 30 September 2016

    Giovanni Buttarelli pays an accountability visit to the European Court of Justice, Luxembourg

  • 30 September 2016

    Speech by Giovanni Buttarelli at the Seminar organised by the International Association of Lawyers on Data Protection in Financial Technology, Insurance and Medical Services: A new regulation and perspectives, Luxembourg

  • 29 September 2016

    EDPS-BEUC Conference on Big Data: individual rights and smart enforcement, Speech by Giovanni Buttarelli, Brussels, Belgium

  • 28 September 2016

    Giovanni Buttarelli and Wojciech Wiewiórowski meeting Michael O'Flaherty, the Director of the  EU Agency for Fundamental Rights Agency, Brussels, Belgium

  • 27 September 2016

    Giovanni Buttarelli meeting Thomas Lösse-Mueller, Head Chancellery Schleswig Holstein, Brussels, Belgium

  • 27 September 2016

    107th Plenary meeting of the Article 29 Working Party, Participation of Giovanni Buttarelli and Wojciech Wiewiórowski, Brussels, Belgium

  • 27 September 2016

    Giovanni Buttarelli meeting Shadow Rapporteurs on smart borders proposals, European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium

  • 26 September 2016

    Seminar on data protection at University of Bologna, Speech by Giovanni Buttarelli, Bologna, Italy