WORKING PAPER • VOL. 4 • N° 12 • AUGUST 2018

Understanding the balancing act behind the legitimate interest of the controller ground: a pragmatic approach

by  Irene Kamara and Paul De Hert

This is a Working Paper (version: May 2017). Please refer to the final published version: Kamara, I., & De Hert, P. (2018). Understanding the Balancing Act behind the Legitimate Interest of the Controller Ground. In E. Selinger, J. Polonetsky, & O. Tene (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Privacy (pp. 321-352). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781316831960.019


The General Data Protection Regulation provides new tools and concepts such as Data Protection Impact Assessments, accountability and certification, but to a large extent retains the rationale of the Data Protection Directive for a principles-driven legislation. One of the cornerstones of both the reformed and new EU data protection legislation is the grounds for lawful processing.

Much debate has taken place over consent and the conditions for a meaningful informed choice of the data subject, while other grounds have not been at the spotlight of academia and practitioners. The legitimate interest of the controller has been one of the least discussed legal grounds for lawful processing, with a few exceptions, mainly the opinion of the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, despite its significance as equally binding ground for processing. This contribution analyses the concept of legitimate interest of the controller of art. 6 (f) GDPR in relation to art. 7 (f) of the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and the interpretations of the concept by the Court of Justice of the EU and the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party.




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