On Monday 1 July 2019 Jef Ausloos was awarded with the English-Speaking René Cassin Thesis Prize 2019 for his PhD (KU Leuven) on
The Right to Erasure: Safeguard for Informational Self-Determination in a Digital Society?
The main research question of Jef Ausloos’ PhD project is “How can the right to erasure meaningfully safeguard the fundamental right to data protection without unduly interfering with other fundamental rights and freedoms?” In theory, the right to erasure can be considered as the epitome of individual empowerment under data protection law. In practice, however, the right is rarely acknowledged by data controllers and usually only in an ‘ad hoc’ way. Hence, the research will examine and evaluate how the right to erasure can meaningfully empower data subject in light of the issues mentioned supra. Three central research questions – each corresponding to a Part – will be tackled: a) When/why does the right to erasure apply? Sub-questions include: what is the rationale of the right to erasure; what is the history of the right to erasure; what is the scope of application of the right to erasure; what are the preconditions for the right to erasure? b) How should the right to erasure be balanced against the fundamental rights to freedom of expression (art.11 Charter) and freedom to conduct a business (art. 16 Charter)? Sub-questions include: how are information and economic freedoms affected by invoking/applying the right to erasure; what is the rationale of both fundamental rights; what is scope of application of these fundamental rights; what are their preconditions; what are the exceptions to their application; how are they traditionally balanced; how should they be balanced against the fundamental right to data protection? c) How should the right to erasure be implemented in practice? Sub-questions include: what are the practical challenges for the right to erasure to achieve its purpose; should the right to erasure’s scope of application be adjusted; can/should there be different degrees of the right to erasure in practice; how should obligations and responsibilities be distributed between relevant stakeholders?