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German Research Institute for Public Administration

Transformation of data protection principles in times of Big Data – the 'once only' principle as a strategy of eGovernment across all levels that complies with data protection legislation?

Beyond the practical view taken of national possibilities for regulation, the fundamental project particularly concentrates on the scope for the 'once only' principle of the EU's eGovernment strategy.

The "once only" principle is the name that the EU Commission gives to the approach of requesting eGovernment users within the EU to enter certain data or to send certain documents or certificates only once, instead of requesting the same details and evidence for each new administrative procedure or eGovernment process. If master data and register data that has been entered once is needed for a new procedure with another authority within the EU, this data is to be automatically entered in advance in the appropriate forms (known as pre-filling). The Commission is therefore aiming for more efficient digital services and the dismantling of the bureaucratic hurdles entailed by the use of eGovernment, especially for enterprises. First of all a pilot initiative is to be launched in 2016 with interested Member States.

So far no recognisable issue has been taken with the fact that the once only principle - to the extent that personal data is affected - comes into conflict with the data protection principle of purpose limitation (Art. 5 para. 1 letter b EU-GDPR) and the principles of data economy or minimisation (Art. 5 para. 1 letter c EU-GDPR) and transparency (Art. 5 para. 1 letter a var. 3 EU-GDPR) and how this conflict can be resolved through regulation. As a first step the programme area will examine how national versions of the once only principle and so-called 'single sign-on' services of the federal states and municipalities (namely citizen and service accounts) implement the above-mentioned data protection requirements. As a second step the programme area will then develop proposals for how master data and register data can be re-utilised across borders in compliance with data protection law. As far as the necessary digital identity management is concerned, the research questions are closely interrelated with the new eIDAS Regulation of the European Union.

Note: The text on this home page is copyrighted. It is taken verbatim or based on Martini, "Digitalisierung als Herausforderung und Chance für Staat und Verwaltung" (Digitalisation as Challenge and Chance for State and Administration), FÖV Discussion Paper No. 85, 2016, in particular p. 56 f.

Senior Fellow

Prof. Dr. Mario Martini



David Nink

David Nink, Ass. iur.



Quirin Weinzierl

Quirin Weinzierl, Ass. iur.