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ECJ, Case C‑300/21 i.S. Öster­rei­chi­sche Post: GA moti­ons: dama­ges under GDPR 82 pre­sup­po­se harm.

The Advo­ca­te Gene­ral (GA), in the Case C‑300/21 i.S. Austri­an Post filed its appli­ca­ti­ons. The pro­ce­e­dings aro­se in con­nec­tion with pro­fil­ing by the postal ser­vice, which had taken place wit­hout the plaintiff’s con­sent. The refer­ring court, the Austri­an Supre­me Court (OGH), had refer­red que­sti­ons regar­ding the con­di­ti­ons and assess­ment of dama­ges under the GDPR.

The GA is of the opi­ni­on that

  • Art. 82 GDPR does not pro­vi­de for com­pen­sa­ti­on if dama­ge has not also been incur­red, i.e. that the vio­la­ti­on of a norm alo­ne is not suf­fi­ci­ent, and
  • that mere annoy­an­ce does not cau­se dama­ge represents.

In doing so, he empha­si­zes that the GDPR is not only aimed at pro­tec­ting data sub­jects, with a sen­tence worth quoting:

Sin­ce the value of data (per­so­nal and non-per­so­nal) for eco­no­mic and social pro­gress in Euro­pe is obvious, the GDPR does not aim to make the individual’s con­trol over the infor­ma­ti­on con­cer­ning him or her the mea­su­re of all things by sim­ply bowing to his or her pre­fe­ren­ces, but rather to recon­ci­le the right to pro­tec­tion of each individual’s per­so­nal data with the inte­rests of third par­ties and society.

It is also note­wor­t­hy that the com­pen­sa­ti­on of imma­te­ri­al dama­ge – if it exists – can­not neces­s­a­ri­ly only be made by money; thus, the GA opens the way to the OGH for real dama­ges, if necessary:

It can­not be ruled out that the reque­sted com­pen­sa­ti­on for non-mate­ri­al dama­ge inclu­des com­pon­ents other than purely finan­cial, e.g. the admis­si­on of the inf­rin­ge­ment, which gives the plain­ti­ff a cer­tain moral satis­fac­tion.

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