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16 Stan. J. Int'l L. 87 (1980)
Data Law in Europe

handle is hein.journals/stanit16 and id is 91 raw text is: Data Law in Europe
Modem technology has made it possible for public and private organizations around the world to
process and store vast quantities of information about people. This technological advance, however,
carries with it the potential for abuse. Europe was the frst area to recognize the problem, and in the last
decade European countries have laid the foundation for the protection of thinvidual rights against com-
puter-generated abuse. The basic principles of data protection law in Europe have developedfrom the
first Council of Europe resolutions, through the enactment of national data protection legislation and
constitutional provisions in several European nations, to the current Council of Europe draft Convention
for the international regulation of data processing of personal information. Data protection has gained
national and international recognition in Europe as afundamental human right. While there is essential
harmony among the various laws in force, there remain problems and uncertainties in data protection law
in Europe and the rest of the world
There is a remarkable parallel between the data processing and
legal fields. Both deal with the application of predetermined rules
and procedures to varying constellations of facts and conditions.
Both operate in the context of systems, ze., groups of related and
interacting subjects. The problems encountered in one field can
serve to illustrate problem-solving techniques in the other. For ex-
ample, George Boole, the nineteenth century mathematician whose
logical calculus became the basis for electronic computing, used legal
problems posed by Jewish dietary law to demonstrate his theory.'
Despite this affinity between computers and the law, encounters
between the two remained of marginal significance until not long
ago. The relationship has begun to develop in recent years, however,
generally following two basic lines: computers as aids to the law, and
computers as subjects of legal regulation. The former category is
known as legal informatics (informatiquejuridique) or legal data
processing in Europe. The second category, not yet widely recog-
nized as a distinct legal discipline, lacks a single commonly accepted
name. For the sake of convenience, I refer to it as computer law.
This article discusses the emergence of this second category, particu-
larly in the area of data protection law.
* Dr. Frits W. Hondius is Head of Division II (Droit Public) for the Directorate of
Legal Affairs in the Secretariat General of the Council of Europe. Dr. Hondius served as a
representative of the Secretariat in the Committee of Experts on Data Protection that re-
viewed the Draft Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic
Processing of Personal Data promulgated by the Council of Europe.

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