Big data is the present and the future. It holds the potential to make corporations create big revenues, to let scientists solve vital issues and to help governments make informed policy decisions. Yet the massive collection and use of personal data also raises a host of issues, particularly for individuals’ privacy and data protection rights.1 In Europe, data protection regulation is widely regarded as the answer to these issues. Through regulating data flows and providing individuals control over their personal data, some of big data’s possible undesired effects may be prevented. Yet upon closer scrutiny, it is uncertain whether European data protection legislation suffices to address these negative consequences. The practices in big data projects and the threshold for data to fall within the material scope of EU data protection legislation raise...

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