More effective protection of personal data possible?
The Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection published a ministerial draft bill concerning the improvement of enforcement of civil claims regarding consumer protection in the field of data protection law.
Essentially the draft bill deals with the problem that individuals who are faced with data issues usually do not pursue their claims against the companies that infringe data protection law before the courts. This is mainly because they fear high costs and difficulties of proof. For that reason the draft bill suggests to implement an extensive right for consumers‘ associations, trade associations and chambers to bring actions against companies that infringe data protection law. Further the bill draft provides for sanctions to prevent misuse of that right.
Not surprisingly, while consumer protectors welcome the suggestions of the ministry, data processing companies are rather critical about them.
The question raises whether the concept as laid out in the draft bill actually would make data protection more effective. This question is discussed in depth in the article “Verbraucherschutzverbände als Heilsbringer für den Datenschutz“ by Eva Weidlich-Flatten, published in German in ZRP 7/2014, p. 196–198.