The Right of Access, also referred to as Right to Access and [data] subject access, is one of the most fundamental rights in data protection laws around the world. For instance, the United States, Singapore, Brazil, and countries in Europe have all developed laws that regulate access to personal data as privacy protection. The European Union states that: “The right of access occupies a central role in EU data protection law’s arsenal of data subject empowerment measures.”[1] This right is often operationalized as a Subject Access Request.

The right of access is enshrined as part of the fundamental right to data protection in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. It is in fact the only one of the practical rights relating to personal data that is listed there.

In the GDPR, this right is defined in various sections of Article 15. There is also a right to access in the GDPR’s partner legislation, the Data Protection Law Enforcement Directive.[2] When the EU Directive is transposed into Member State national law, the right of access may be suspended or restricted, as in the case of Germany in Article 34 of its Bundesdatenschutzgesetz.[3] Moreover, on the European level, Europol offers a right of access.[4]

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