European Data Protection Regulation and Online New Media: Mind the Enforcement Gap

31 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2016

See all articles by David Erdos

David Erdos

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law; Trinity Hall

Date Written: December 2016


Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) play a critical role in shaping and applying the regulation applicable to online media expression within the European Economic Area. Drawing on seven ubiquitous types of online new media actors, a comprehensive survey of these authorities was undertaken. It found that European DPAs generally adopt an expansive interpretation of data protection and a constrained understanding of freedom of expression in this space. In contrast, data protection enforcement is weak and lacking in harmonization. Except for street mapping services, each type of online media actor had only faced relevant enforcement action from a minority of these agencies. DPA financial resourcing is very limited. Notwithstanding the development of DPA ‘network governance’, only DPAs with a particularly extensive interpretative stance proved likely to have engaged in extensive enforcement activity. It remains unclear what difference the General Data Protection Regulation will make to resolving this enforcement gap and its related problems.

Suggested Citation

Erdos, David, European Data Protection Regulation and Online New Media: Mind the Enforcement Gap (December 2016). Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 43, Issue 4, pp. 534-564, 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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