Statutory Regulation of Professional Journalism Under European Data Protection: Down But Not Out?

47 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2016 Last revised: 4 Aug 2016

See all articles by David Erdos

David Erdos

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law; Trinity Hall

Date Written: August 3, 2016


European data protection aims to protect the privacy and related rights of individuals, purposes which come into tension with the free speech of professional journalism. Moreover, statutory Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) act as the ‘guardians’ of the data protection framework across the European Economic Area. In light of this, this article explores through both a DPA questionnaire and a DPA website review the enforcement efforts of these critical regulators in this sector. The results indicate that, notwithstanding stringent statutory provisions enforceable by DPAs in many Member States, activity has been patchy even in areas which raise limited free speech concern (e.g. action against significant inaccuracy). Nevertheless, many DPAs do engage in this area especially when sensitive or importantly confidential information is involved. The stringency of local law also positively correlates with the extent of enforcement, whilst the level of resourcing surprisingly does not. The article proposes action by both Member States and DPAs to ensure more regulatory coherence under the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation.

Keywords: data protection, privacy, regulation, European harmonization, Directive 95/46, GPDR, freedom of expression, media regulation, press freedom, Directive 95/46

Suggested Citation

Erdos, David, Statutory Regulation of Professional Journalism Under European Data Protection: Down But Not Out? (August 3, 2016). University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 35/2016. Available at SSRN: or

David Erdos (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom


Trinity Hall ( email )

University of Cambridge
Trinity Lane
Cambridge, CB2 1TJ
United Kingdom

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