Interpretation of Directive 96/45 EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE (ECJ + GC) - Joined Cases C-468/10 and C-469/10, ASNEF (C-468/10) and FECEMD (C-469/10) v Administración del Estado, judgment of 24 November 2011 - Interpretation of Article 7(f) of Directive 95/46/EC In this preliminary ruling, the Court answered two questions referred by a Spanish court on the interpretation of Article 7(f) of Directive 95/46/EC. By its first question the referring court asked whether Article 7(f) of Directive 95/46 must be interpreted as precluding national rules which, in order to allow such processing of that data subject’s personal data as is necessary to pursue a legitimate interest, requires not only that the fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject be respected, but also that the data should appear in public sources. The Court answered positively to that question, by stating that Article 7(f) of Directive 95/46 must be interpreted as precluding national rules which require, not only that the fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject be respected, but also that those data should appear in public sources, thereby excluding, in a categorical and generalised way, any processing of data not appearing in such sources. By its second question, the referring court was asked whether Article 7(f) has direct effect. The Court answered that Article 7(f) of Directive 95/46 has direct effect as it is sufficiently precise to be relied on by an individual and applied by the national courts and states an unconditional obligation (see, by analogy, Österreichischer Rundfunk and Others, C-465/00 a.o., paragraph 100). The judgment is rather short and interesting to read in its entirety. We flag in particular the following points: Citing Lindqvist (C-101/01), the ECJ confirms that Directive 95/46 is not limited to minimal harmonisation but to harmonisation which is generally complete. The Directive is aimed at guaranteeing free flow of personal data combined with a high level of protection of those data (29); From the objective of ensuring an equivalent level of protection, it stems that Article 7 must be interpreted as setting out an exhaustive list. Therefore, Member States cannot add new principles relating to the lawfulness of the processing or impose additional requirements. This interpretation is not brought into question by Article 5 of the Directive (31-33) Distinction between national measures that provide for additional requirements and national measures which provide for a mere clarification of principles, the first type of which is precluded (35-39); Direct effect of Article 7(f) (51-53).