The consequences of data-driven political campaigns for EU fundamental rights and democracy 

This paper examines the extent to which data-driven political campaigns can have a detrimental impact on European fundamental rights and European democracy. The reliance on data collection and processing of voters’ data within the framework of political campaigns can pose threats to numerous EU fundamental rights. Not only can such campaigns restrain freedom of information of voters (Article 11 of the Charter) by providing them only partial information about campaigns of political parties, they can also affect voters’ right to respect for private life (Article 7 of the Charter) and protection of personal data (Article 8 of the Charter) through the collection of massive amounts of personal data which serve as the base for profiling of voters. The paper also discusses the extent to which political manipulation stemming from targeted political advertising can amount to ‘thwarting’ of ‘the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature’ (ECtHR, Mathieu-Mohin and Clerfayt v. Belgium, paras 52 and 57), affecting the freedom of elections (Article 39(2) of the Charter). It argues that it is a step too far to assert that the use of data-driven political campaigns leads to elections which are not ‘free’, especially given the lack of empirical proof of a tangible negative and manipulative impact of such campaigns on election results. Finally, the author cautions that it might be similarly challenging to rely on the foundational value of democracy from Article 2 TEU, given that this provision is addressed to the Member States and needs to be given ‘concrete expression’ through another Treaty provision (C-619/18, Commission v Poland, para 47) in case of judicial enforcement.  

The workshop will run from 1.30pm until 3pm with a sandwich lunch available from 1pm outside the lecture theatre.