The recent spate of legal, legislative and other activity on both sides of the Atlantic related to the collection, storage, use and manipulation of personal data highlights the serious political differences that divide the EU and the US regarding the relationship of the individual and the state. This paper by two Professors of Law at Radboud University at Nijmegen asks what is ‘the political life of data’ that has so galvanised EU and US institutions? Their point of departure is the Passenger Name Record (PNR) Agreement between the EU and the US, which was recently declared unlawful by the European Court of Justice.
Elspeth Guild and Evelien Brouwer seek to address three critical issues. The first is how the current architecture of the EU is failing to deliver the legal certainty that is critical to the EU’s foreign relations and international standing and what needs to be done to improve it. Secondly, they explore the European legal norms on data protection and how they should be reconciled in the light of very different US considerations; and thirdly t investigates the right of the aggrieved individual to a remedy in the case of illegal data processing.