Library Header Image
LSE Theses Online London School of Economics web site

The individual in EU data protection law

Nolan, Katherine Anne (2023) The individual in EU data protection law. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

[img] Text - Submitted Version
Download (2MB)
Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004596


The individual and the idea of the individual are at the centre of EU data protection law, particularly the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) and the fundamental right to data protection under Article 8 of the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Critiques of that role have emerged, and exist in parallel to broader concerns about individualist tendencies of information privacy law. These concerns go to the heart of the law’s capacity to protect individuals and groups, and to ensure a just digital society, and the understanding of what data protection law sets out to achieve. I argue that an understanding of the role and conception of the individual is central to understanding EU data protection law, both its promise and limitations. The individual’s role in the GDPR emerges as a multi-faceted one, at times contradictory. Understanding this role can enable us to more precisely assess the GDPR and imagine alternative regulatory approaches to data protection. Placing the role of the individual in EU data protection law in historical and institutional context helps us to see that the notion of the individual, their status and capacities, have shaped the regime, and that many of the assumptions underpinning this notion of personhood in the regime also merit question. The conception of the individual in EU data protection law is analysed according to three parameters of personhood: relational versus individuated, empowered versus protected and different versus uniform. The picture of personhood which emerges is fragmentary, and reveals ideas and assumptions which have informed the regime, which can indicate limited understandings of personhood and gaps in the reach of EU data protection law. By re-engaging with these assumptions and the multi-faceted role of the individual, new understandings of the GDPR, associated case law and the right to data protection are possible.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2023 Katherine Anne Nolan
Library of Congress subject classification: K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > Law
Supervisor: Murray, Andrew D. and Lynskey, Orla

Actions (login required)

Record administration - authorised staff only Record administration - authorised staff only


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics