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Data protection for legal entities
On 13.05.2014 the Constitutional Court of the Federal State of Rhineland-Palatinate (Verfassungsgerichtshof des Bundeslandes Rheinland-Pfalz) handed down a notable ruling (Case B 0035/12). The court awarded the plaintiff, a legal entity, “constitutional data protection”. The entity can invoke this protection insofar as a state informational measure jeopardizes its specific exercise of freedom – i.e. in particular its economic activities. Although the constitutional appeal was rejected, in its ruling the court nevertheless stated “Insofar as the appellant argues that its constitutional right to informational self-determination has been violated, it can […], as a matter of principle, cite Art. 4a of the State Constitution (Landesverfassung) [Rhineland-Palatinate].” This is surprising insofar as the wording of this law (similarly to the German Federal Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz, BDSG), which is intended to protect individuals against the impairment of their personal rights resulting from the handling of their personal data, Sect. 1 Para. 1 BDSG) refers to the individual and thus a natural person and specifically not a legal entity.
Conclusion: The Constitutional Court’s unambiguous remarks remove any doubt as to the fundamental legal capacity of legal entities with regard to informational self-determination.