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ECJ Rules In Swedish Data Protection Case

by Ulrika Lomas, for LawAndTax-News.com, Brussels

11 November 2003


The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that the inclusion of information of a potentially sensitive nature on a personal website constitutes an infringement of the European Union's Data Protection Directive.

The row began when Swedish church volunteer, Bodil Lindqvist created a personal website as part of a computer course, on which she included information on 18 of her fellow volunteers, including contact details, personal information, and in one case, medical data.

As a result, Mrs Lindqvist was charged with processing personal data automatically without notifying the authorities, transferring the personal data of others to countries without similar levels of data protection, and possessing sensitive information relating to others without their consent.

She appealed to Sweden's Gota Court of Appeal, arguing that merely mentioning a name or information on a personal web page could not constitute an infringement of the Data Protection Directive.

However, the ECJ found otherwise, explaining that the exemptions applying to instances in which the data is processed for purely personal activities should be seen as "relating only to activities which are carried out in the course of private or family life of individuals, which is clearly not the case with the processing of personal data consisting in publication on the internet so that those data are made accessible to an indefinite number of people."


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