Data Protection Developments at EU level in 2014 and looking forward to 2015

Data protection laws change fast − and as a result, a number of our clients have asked us to summarise some of the key developments from 2014. 

Nathaniel Lane, solicitor in the Technology, Media & Communications (TMC) team, takes a look at some of the most important data protection developments that took place last year at EU level, and looks forward to the developments on the horizon for 2015. 

Data retention directive, Google Spain and Data Protection Regulation

Most of you are aware of: 

These have been well publicised. As such, we will not dwell on them here. Suffice it to say their magnitude cannot be underestimated and it is no coincidence that the two ECJ decisions were made so close together. 

Rynes

Speaking to clients, less people were aware of the Ryneš case decided in mid-December. A gentlemen in the Czech Republic had used CCTV for the purposes of the protection of the property, health and life of the owners and occupants following several broken windows at the family home. The CCTV film captured two people who broke windows at Mr Ryneš' property. One of those captured complained that the footage was not processed in accordance with the relevant data protection laws. The ECJ agreed with the suspect that the 'household exemption' was not applicable because the CCTV also monitored a public footpath and the house opposite. However moral the data controller's purpose, the ECJ ruled that the 'household exemption' must be narrowly construed to processing carried out for a 'purely' personal or household activity and the fundamental right to a private life prevailed. 

The Rynes case has a very wide practical effect given current recording technology (mobile phones etc) and as technology develops (e.g. Internet of Things). For example, the ECJ's ruling that 'To the extent that video surveillance such as that at issue in the main proceedings covers, even partially, a public space and is accordingly directed outwards from the private setting of the person processing the data in that manner, it cannot be regarded as an activity which is a purely ‘personal or household’ activity for the purposes of the second indent of Article 3(2) of Directive 95/46' appears to mean that recording your child's nativity play on your mobile phone or other recording device infringes other pupil's right to privacy or otherwise breaches the DPA.

2015

Looking forward, a gauge of the EU's priorities for 2015 can be found in a recent speech by Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality:

  • people to regain control over their personal data;
  • strong data protection rights that are effectively enforced;
  • conclusion of the Data Protection Regulation;
  • building a digital single market with a level playing field;
  • ensuring 'Safe Harbor' is really safe; and
  • ensuring all EU citizens not resident in the US enjoy the same enforcement rights as those enjoyed by US nationals in the EU today. 

This may mean that 2015 may be an even more monumental year regarding data protection for Michelmores' clients than 2014, particularly if the Data Protection Regulation is concluded.  

Nathaniel Lane is a Solicitor in Michelmores' Technology, Media & Communications team who has an ISEB Certificate in Data Protection. For further information on this matter or data protection generally, please contact Nathaniel at nathaniel.lane@michelmores.com or on 0207 788 6313.