When is Personal Data 'About' or 'Relating To' an Individual? A Comparison of Australian, Canadian and EU Data Protection and Privacy Laws

22 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2018

See all articles by Normann Witzleb

Normann Witzleb

Monash University - Faculty of Law; The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Julian Wagner

Goethe University Frankfurt - Faculty of Law

Date Written: February 1, 2018

Abstract

The definition of “personal information” or “personal data” is foundational to the application of data protection laws. One aspect of these definitions is that the information must be linked to an identifiable individual, which is incorporated in the requirement that the information must be “about” or “relating to” an individual. This article examines this requirement in light of recent judicial and legislative developments in Australia, Canada and the European Union. In particular, it contrasts the decisions rendered by the Federal Court of Australia in Privacy Commissioner v Telstra Corporation Ltd and by the European Court of Justice decisions in Scarlet Extended and Patrick Breyer v Bundesrepublik Deutschland as well as the new General Data Protection Regulation with Canadian law. This article also compares how the three jurisdictions deal with the vexed issue of IP addresses as personal information where the connection between the IP address and a particular individual often raises particular problems.

Keywords: data protection; privacy; personal data; personal information; definition

JEL Classification: K29; K39

Suggested Citation

Witzleb, Normann and Witzleb, Normann and Wagner, Julian, When is Personal Data 'About' or 'Relating To' an Individual? A Comparison of Australian, Canadian and EU Data Protection and Privacy Laws (February 1, 2018). Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3189376, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3189376 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3189376

Normann Witzleb (Contact Author)

Monash University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

The Chinese University of Hong Kong ( email )

6/F, Lee Shau Kee Building
Shatin, New Territories
Kowloon, Sha Tin
Hong Kong

Julian Wagner

Goethe University Frankfurt - Faculty of Law ( email )

Frankfurt
Germany

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