Thursday, 26 February 2015

New German draft legislation establishing a collective action for data protection violations

Germany’s consumer associations are powerful players when it comes to seeking injunctive relief. According to a draft legislation that has recently been approved by the federal cabinet this right will soon be extended to data protection violations. It could remedy situations in which companies collect, process and use personal data of consumers without authorisation.

Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Heiko Maas, considers this an important step in strengthening the rights of German consumers (see press release). Consumers may face difficulties in identifying whether a company has breached data protection legislation. They, furthermore, fear the costs and efforts of pursuing an action against a data protection law violation themselves. Consequently, the intervention of consumer associations seems justified to overcome such passivity. Such a right is particularly important in the light of an increasing digitalisation.

It remains to be seen which changes the legislative proposal will undergo during the legislative procedure.

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