Virtual Privacy Office

Informational Self-Determination - What does that mean?

In short, informational self-determination means: everyone has the right to know who is knowing what about him at what time.

Of course, this is much too brief an answer. To be more precise: In its decision on national census 15.12.1983, the Federal Constitutional Court first used the term Right on Informational Self-Determination in the sense that privacy protection is considered as a Fundamental Right. The Court refrained from using lawyers language on this occasion and explained in the 1st and 2nd leading records:

This Fundamental Right insofar authorizes each individual to determine on the circulation and the use of his own personal data. A limitation of this Right on "Informational Self-Determination" will only be allowed in the case of prevalant public interest.

According to this decision, "the protection of the individual against unrestricted inquiry, storage, use, and circulation of his personal data is covered by the Public Civil Rights (allgemeines Persönlichkeitsrecht), first sentence of section 2, in conjunction with Constitutional Law (GG), first sentence of section 1." Thus, the Public Civil Rights in connection with the dignity of man represents the constitutional basis for the Right on Informational Self-Determination.

The basic statement of the Court's decision on national census regarding Informational Self-Determination can be summarized in the sentence: As much liberty as possible, and as much obligations as necessary. Here the priority is always given to the liberty of the citizens; at the same time the demands of the public are being met.

Bäumler, Helmut/ Breinlinger, Astrid/ Schrader, Hans-Hermann (Hrsg.), 1999: Datenschutz von A-Z, Stichwort "Informationelle Selbstbestimmung" (I300); Neuwied; Krieftel: Luchterhand)


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