Freedom of Information news site Wobbing Europe reports on proposed legislation regarding ‘personal data’ which could impact on both journalists and citizens, based on a 2003 case:

“Bodil Lindqvist, a Swedish maintenance worker, and part time webmaster learned this the hard way nine years ago.

“In 1998 she built a website to inform young confirmands about the people who worked for the local parish in Alseda, a small congregation in the Swedish Protestant Church.

“Five years later the EU-court found that Lindqvist had violated the data protection directive by ”processing sensitive personal data”. Bodil Lindqvist had mentioned – in a humoristic way, but still – that one of the persons had injured her foot, and health data are by definition sensitive”

“… The EU-commission regards the case as a platform for departure for the future.
This is shown in a classified, but leaked, document on the data protection package presented by the Commission in January this year.

“In the proposed regulation […] anything uploaded to the net, and thus accessible to the public, shall be regulated by the proposed data protection rules. And as a general rule the following will be a no go-zone:

”The processing of personal data, revealing race or ethnic origin, political opinions, religion or philosophical beliefs, trade-union membership, and the processing of genetic data or data concerning health or sex life or criminal convictions and offences or related security measures shall be prohibited.” (Article 9.1)

“Hence the proposal clashes head on with all kind of net publishing, as well as with the fundamental right of freedom of expression.

“Should media ask for permission to publish a person’s political opinions or ethical background? Can we blog about Barroso’s political past, without his consent?

“To avoid such a conflict the Commission suggests a way out. Some will get at free ride:

“Member states shall provide for exemptions for data processing ”solely for journalistic purposes or the purpose of artistic or literary expression” (article 80).”

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