Parliament Passes Conclusively Amendments to Personal Data Protection Act

Parliament Passes Conclusively Amendments to Personal Data Protection Act


Parliament Passes Conclusively
Amendments to Personal Data
Protection Act

Sofia, January 24 (BTA) - Bulgaria's Parliament on Thursday adopted conclusively amendments to the Personal Data Protection Act, transposing Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data. The Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria (AEJ-Bulgaria) voiced concern that the revisions restrict the right to freedom of expression and called on President Rumen Radev to veto the law.

The amendments expand the tasks and the powers of the Commission for Personal Data Protection as the single supervisory authority responsible for the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals in connection with the processing and movement of personal data within the EU.

The law regulates the powers of the Inspectorate with the Supreme Judicial Council to supervise personal data processing in particular cases.

Under the revisions, processing of personal data for journalistic purposes and the purposes of academic, artistic or literary expression is lawful when it is carried out for the exercise of the right to freedom of expression while respecting the protection of privacy.

The amended law regulates the cases of direct offer of information society services. Where the data subject is a person aged under 14, processing will be lawful only if consent is given by the parent exercising parental rights or by the guardian of the data subject.

The revisions align personal data protection rules at the national level and in international exchange in police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

AEJ-Bulgaria: Changes Curb Free Expression

According to AEJ-Bulgaria, instead of guaranteeing the freedom of expression, as required by the EU General Data Protection Regulation, the bill does just the opposite as it restricts this right. It does not provide sufficient guarantees in principle for the protection of fundamental rights which could be in conflict with personal data protection and above all freedom of expression.

"The draft law adopted thus runs counter to fundamental principles and rights enshrined in the Constitution and is inconsistent with the spirit and principle of the EU Regulation, according to which the processing of personal data should be designed to serve mankind," AEJ argues.

They explain that the bill as adopted provides for ten cumulative requirements which journalists must comply with before processing personal data. Imposing such responsibilities and limitations on the use of personal data in journalistic material and for the purposes of academic, artistic or literary expression endangers and unlawfully restricts freedom of speech.

"In our opinion, the Regulation is misinterpreted and the requirement of Article 85 is not met and, moreover, the right to access public registers such as the Property Register and the Commercial Register is unlawfully restricted by the requirement to enter a Personal Identity Number, as the Access to Information Programme has already warned. Professional secrecy is not clearly defined, and the unaffordable ceiling of sanctions is preserved: up to 20 million leva or 4 per cent of the turnover of the company (news organization)," AEJ-Bulgaria says. RY, LN/PP, LG

Source: Sofia