Independent Research and Policy Advocacy

Understanding harm from personal data processing activities and its challenges for user protection

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This research paper was first published as part of RGNUL Student Research Review Journal Volume 7, Issue 1. The full paper is available here.

This paper seeks to understand the nature of harm emerging from personal data processing activities and its impact on user protection. To this end, the paper analyses how personal data-related harms are unique and distinct from other kinds of harms arising from torts, breach of contract, crime or defects in products and services. Then, it explores how these unique features of personal data-related harm could pose practical challenges to existing and upcoming frameworks for user protection and redress in relation to personal data. In doing so, the paper analyses how the treatment of ‘Harm’ under the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 risks weakening user protection measures in the Bill. Finally, the paper uses the analysis to justify an alternative definition for ‘Harm’ that would allow future jurisprudence to develop on a case-by-case basis until there is a firmer understanding of how to address the challenges posed by personal data related harms.

The full paper is available here.

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