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Daniel Wolff

The article discusses the proposal for a “Charter of Digital Fundamental Rights of the European Union,” whose central element is a binding effect of its fundamental rights not only to state authorities, but also to powerful private internet companies, which have a potential similar to that of the state to infringe on fundamental rights in the digital era. The article outlines the traditional German approach to fundamental rights and its underlying distinction between state and society, which makes it difficult for German scholars to handle a so-called horizontal effect of fundamental rights. Finally, the article discusses the main objections to such a horizontal effect and shows some practical problems it has the potential to cause in German and European constitutional law.