Belgian Data Protection Authority imposes fines on Mayor

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

The Belgian data protection Authority has imposed a fine of €5000 on a mayor and a municipal officer in separate cases. These fines had been imposed once they improperly used PII to send political advertisements to be reelected in the course of the 2018 local elections in Belgium. For the Belgian Litigation Chamber, the behaviour of individuals who preserve a public mandate should be exemplary.

To read the full press release in Dutch, click here

The two cases: sending of personalised election post which is not in accordance with the rules on data protection

The first case relates to a complaint about the use by an outgoing mayor of data which he in the performance of its function has obtained at the benefit of an election campaign. These contact details were on a list of 476 people who were on him from 2012 to 2018, in his capacity as Mayor.

The second case relates to the transmission by sending off an election letter to a list of clients which he has obtained in the context of an appeal to it parallel to its public mandate exercised. From the study of the Inspectorate of the Data Protection Authority has proved to have 654 people in question were.

The GBA remembers coming to controllers the principle of purpose limitation in eight must take: the collected data must be for specific purposes to be used and can not further be processed in a manner which is incompatible with these purposes. The reuse of a customer database or data in the context of a public mandate is obtained for election advertising; if it is not the original purpose, it is, therefore, a breach of the AVG.

After the various parties to have heard and their arguments to have analysed, decided the Dispute Resolution Chamber to the departing ships and mayor a fine of 5,000 euros and a reprimand on to explain.

Hielke Hijmans, Chairman of the Dispute Resolution Chamber of the GBA, adds comments (in this google translation) ” The status of public representative should accompany go of exemplary behaviour in accordance with the law, the. The fact which the defendants at the time of the facts ships and mayor were, aggravates the seriousness of the infringement . in our decision is also taking into account the fact the there are hundreds of people in question are. “

The use of personal data by politicians for electoral campaigns is a question which many citizens worry reveals; GBA has after the last municipal elections several questions and complaints received. In May 2019, the GBA had already imposed a fine in a similar case.

Protection of personal data as a guarantee for the democracy

The facts are of a more serious because public officers commit them, and in particular within the context of elections.

The EDPB ( European Committee for Data Protection ) has there recently on pointed to the observance of the rules on data protection is essential is for the protection of democracy. It is the only way for the trust of citizens and the integrity of the elections to maintain. The scandal around Cambridge Analytica is here a clear example of.

Hielke Hijmans ”They sent letters urged the recipients to order for a candidate to vote. Although this the end of an election campaign, is the observance of the law in this context of particular importance. This is not the first time which we in the part of a campaign violation of the law on personal rebuke, our message is clear: this practice is unacceptable.

The GBA has recently a website launched for citizens whose aim is the individual and collective risks to declare, which involves going to the loss of control over personal data: .

David Stevens, President of the GBA, lays out: ”The rules on data protection have, in particular, to end the freedom of every citizen to free choices to make to ensure. This applies not only to the commercial sector but in particular also for the public sector; the good example has to give.