The Evolving Role of the Individual Under EU Data Protection Law

36 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2015

See all articles by Brendan van Alsenoy

Brendan van Alsenoy

KU Leuven - Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP)

Date Written: August 10, 2015


The role of individuals has shifted. In less than 30 years, individuals have transcended their role as passive “data subjects” to become actively involved in the creation, distribution and consumption of personal data. Unless an exemption or derogation applies, individuals are – at least in theory – subject to data protection law. This hypothesis was confirmed early on by the Lindqvist ruling and more recently in Ryneš. The aim of this paper is to analyse whether it is still possible to reconcile the “personal use exemption” of article 3(2) Directive 95/46 with the widespread use of technologies by individuals. Using online social networks, drones and Google Glass as use cases, this paper will explore how the personal use exemption might be shaped in order to preserve individuals’ ability to use new technologies freely, while still protecting the privacy interests of others.

Keywords: data protection, roles and responsibilities, personal use, social media, drones, Google Glass

Suggested Citation

van Alsenoy, Brendan, The Evolving Role of the Individual Under EU Data Protection Law (August 10, 2015). CiTiP Working Paper 23/2015, Available at SSRN:

Brendan van Alsenoy (Contact Author)

KU Leuven - Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP) ( email )

Sint-Michielsstraat 6 box 3443
Leuven, 3000

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