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The Expanding Scope of the Data Protection Directive: The Exception for a “Purely Personal or Household Activity”

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Butler, Oliver 


This case note comments on the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in C-212/13 Ryneš v Úrad pro ochranu osobních údaju. It argues that the CJEU has imposed a spatial logic on the interpretation of the exception for data processing “in the course of a purely personal or household activity”: Article 3(2) of the Data Protection Directive 1995. It criticises that spatial logic as both too broad and too narrow. Too broad because the logic of the decision potentially captures many other forms of video-based recording and too narrow because it appears to exclude data protection from CCTV in the purely private setting, ignoring circumstances where individuals from outside the household might legitimately enter and be subject to intrusive monitoring. It examines the consequences of that logic for UK data protection law and guidance issued by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). This note argues that the implications of the reasoning in Ryneš could extend beyond these narrower changes and represent part of wider expansion of data protection through the interpretation of the CJEU, which has pursued a course of broad interpretation for provisions of the Directive and narrow interpretations of its exceptions. The note questions the desirability of this extension.


This is the accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Winchester University Press via


46 Information and Computing Sciences, 4604 Cybersecurity and Privacy

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Journal of Information Rights, Policy and Practice

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Winchester University Press