SHARE Foundation and organizations for the protection of digital rights warn about the misuse of GDPR in Romania

Journalists of RISE Project from Romania, an investigative media outlet, were threatened with fines in the amount of 20 million EUR if they do not allow the access to personal data, thus 18 organizations for the protection of digital rights and freedoms and SHARE Foundation among them, sent a letter to Andrea Jelinek, the Chair of the European Data Protection Board. The letter was also sent to the president of the National Supervisory Authority for Personal Data Processing of Romania, as well as to the European Commission.

Namely, on Facebook page of the RISE Project, journalists published documents containing personal data of a well-known Romanian politician and persons connected with him, and pointed at a high level of corruption in terms of misuse of the EU funds. Soon afterwards, the Project received a written request of the Romanian Supervisory Body asking for the information on the source of the data and threatening with a fine.

The organizations warned that such request of the Romanian body for personal data protection jeopardizes the secrecy of journalistic sources and reminded that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) a legislative framework for the protection of rights established by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Recitals 4 and 153 and Article 85 of the GDPR make clear that the right to protection of personal data must be considered in relation to its function in society and be reconciled with other fundamental rights, such as the right to freedom of expression and information.

Signatories of the letter asked the Board to consider whether the request of the Supervisory Body of Romania is in line with the GDPR and whether the Romanian Law on Personal Data Protection 190/2018 and its application in this case reconcile the personal data protection and freedom of expression and information in line with Article 85.

The letter in English language is available here.