Case C-20/17 Oberle on the EU Succession Regulation – The rise of a true European property law?

On 21 June 2018 the CJEU took its third decision after the EU Succession Regulation entered into force on 17 August 2015. The EU Succession Regulation is a revolutionary piece of EU legislation with very far reaching effect on national law. Although many authors have tried, both during the process of negotiations and after its adoption and entry into force, to limit the effects, the effects turn out to be far reaching indeed. In short, the EU Succession Regulation allows for a single legal system to apply to an entire succession estate and introduces a European certificate of succession that can serve as evidence throughout the EU of the rights and obligations arising under that succession regime, which is to be issued by a single competent authority.

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Facebook’s Data Sharing Practices under Unfair Competition Law

Crosspost from the Stanford Transatlantic Technology Law Forum Newsletter, Issue 2/2018 

This is a brief analysis of Facebook’s data sharing practices under unfair competition rules in the US and EU. A paper on this topic co-authored by myself and MEPLI research fellow Stephan Mulders will be available shortly, and it will be presented at the Amsterdam Privacy Conference in October 2018.

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2018 has so far not been easy on the tech world. The first months of the year brought a lot of bad news: two accidents with self-driving cars (Tesla and Uber) and the first human casualty [1],  another Initial Coin Offering (ICO) scam costing investors $660 million [2],  and Donald Trump promising to go after Amazon [3]. But the scandal that made the most waves had to do with Facebook data being used by Cambridge Analytica [4].

Data brokers and social media

In a nutshell, Cambridge Analytica was a UK-based company that claimed to use data to change audience behavior either in political or commercial contexts [5]. Without going too much into detail regarding the identity of the company, its ties, or political affiliations, one of the key points in the Cambridge Analytica whistleblowing conundrum is the fact that it shed light on Facebook data sharing practices which, unsurprisingly, have been around for a while. To create psychometric models which could influence voting behavior, Cambridge Analytica used the data of around 87 million users, obtained through Facebook’s Graph Application Programming Interface (API), a developer interface providing industrial-level access to personal information [6].

The Facebook Graph API

The first version of the API (v1.0), which was launched in 2010 and was up until 2015, could be used to not only gather public information about a given pool of users, but also about their friends, in addition to granting access to private messages sent on the platform (see Table 1 below). The amount of information belonging to user friends that Facebook allowed third parties to tap into is astonishing. The extended profile properties permission facilitated the extraction of information about: activities, birthdays, check-ins, education history, events, games activity, groups, interests, likes, location, notes, online presence, photo and video tags, photos, questions, relationships and relationships details, religion and politics, status, subscriptions, website and work history. Extended permissions changed in 2014, with the second version of the Graph API (v2.0), which suffered many other changes since (see Table 2) [7]. However, one interesting thing that stands out when comparing versions 1.0 and 2.0 is that less information is gathered from targeted users than from their friends, even if v2.0 withdrew the extended profile properties (but not the extended permissions relating to reading private messages).Table 1 – Facebook application permissions and availability to API v1 (x) and v2 (y) (Symeonidis et al, 2015)

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The first official Legal Data (LeD) community initiative

On 19 April 2018, professors, PhD researchers and students from more than four different faculties, departments and institutes at the Maastricht University gathered for the first official “Legal Data (LeD) community initiative”. The event consisted of a speed date, where all participants could introduce themselves and their fields of interest and research, and a roundtable discussion, where participants discussed four concrete projects in the fields of big data, legal analytics and trustworthy computation.

The LeD community initiative was launched following a remarkably successful think tank taking place at the Faculty of Law in November 2017, which resulted from the shared efforts of the Dean Jan Smits and Michel Dumontier from the then still to be born Institute of Data Science (IDS) working together on topics of common interest. The LeD is a discussion hub open to every UM member interested in the legal impact of data science. It is meant to be interdisciplinary, inclusive and impactful. The initiative was founded and is coordinated by Marta Santos Silva, M-EPLI member and lecturer at the private law department, and by Kody Moodley and Dorina Classens from IDS. The initiative has been sustained by the very valuable, volunteer input of European Law School students. The “Led Speed Date and Roundtable on Big Data, Legal Analytics and Trustworthy Computation” was supported by three European Law School bachelor students, one of which surprised all participants with a live and lively graphic representation of the take-away impressions and projects resulting from the event. Further initiatives are being prepared and everyone who is interested in joining the community is welcome to register (m.santossilva@maastrichtuniversity.nl).

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Contextualizing Brexit

By Dr. Agustín Parise

 

The European Union (EU) faces challenges after the results of the United Kingdom (UK) European Union membership referendum that was held on June 23, 2016. Yet, Brexit is not the first challenge faced by the EU. Three points invite for reflection on Brexit and the future of the EU.

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Access to Justice: A Driver for the Sustainable Development Goals

By Dr. Julieta Marotta, Deputy Academic Director, MPP, UNU-MERIT/MGSoG

 

The right to access to justice is a fundamental driver to ensure the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Why? Because, by guaranteeing access to justice for all, we ensure democratic participation and mechanisms of accountability. Hence, policy makers should pay attention to access to justice.

Access to justice is the vehicle through which other rights are conveyed, as correctly stated by Ricardo Lorenzetti. The global community agreed to consider access to justice as a fundamental right when it was incorporated in the global agenda. Hence, with SDG 16 society agreed to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

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ECHR on Hidden Cameras on the Workfloor: Two Interferences with Art. 8 ECHR

(Case of Lópex Ribalda and others v.s Spain, ECtHR 09 January 2018 appl. 1874/13 and 8567/13 and Case of Antovic and Mirkovic v. Montenegro, EctHR 28 November 2017, 70838/13)

Recently the European Court of Human Right (ECtHR) decided on two separate cases of hidden cameras on the workfloor. In the first case, the University of Montenegro decided to place cameras in the classrooms, vexing several professors. The second case was about a Spanish supermarket which placed hidden cameras to prevent theft among employees. These cameras proved to be very effective, six employees where caught. However, the hidden cameras are also unlawful, according to the ECHR. In this article, these cases will be briefly discussed as well as their influence on the Dutch law.

The professors and supermarket employees: an outline of the cases

So, the first case regards the University of Montenegro. The dean of this university decided to place cameras in the classrooms, supposedly to protect the property of the university. According to the dean, there were cases of damaged property, drinking in the classrooms and even animals were taken inside the classrooms.Apparently, the professors were not amused by the camera surveillance. According to them, there is absolutely no reason for camera surveillance. After all, the classrooms are always closed outside class hours and only contained some old chairs and tables, which are bolted to the floor. Basically, according to them, it is almost impossible to damage any university property. The local data protection authority (DPA)  interfered on request of the professors. The DPA ordered the university subsequently to remove the cameras. It took the University more than a year after that order to remove the cameras. This led the professors to file for damages, which case was ultimately brought before the ECtHR. 

Apparently, not only deans lie awake at night because of stolen or damaged property. This is also a serious problem for Spanish supermarket entrepreneurs. This supermarket entrepreneur had to deal with a monthly cash deficit of up to € 25.000,-. Obviously, he suspected that his employees had something to do with that. So he decided to place hidden cameras above the checkouts. Obviously without telling his employees beforehand. The cameras proved to be very successful. Six employees were caught and fired. In the dismissal proceedings, the employees argued that their privacy was infringed because of the hidden cameras. Spanish data protection law requires subjects to be always informed of the processing of personal data beforehand. As the supermarket entrepreneur did not inform his employees beforehand, he acted against the law. The Spanish courts, however, agreed that the entrepreneur acted against the law by not informing his employees beforehand, but as the entrepreneur faced serious theft in his company, he was allowed to do so. So, the dismissal held before the Spanish court. The employees, therefore, went to the ECtHR to collect damages.

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