Italian SA reprimands a real estate agency and fines it because it failed to reply to the SA’s requests for information

13 October 2021

Background information

Date of final decision: 16 September 2021
Cross-border case or national case: National case
Controller: La Prima Srl
Legal Reference:

  • Purpose limitation (article 5, par. 1, let. b) GDPR), lawfulness of processing (article 6, par. 1, let. a) GDPR), adequacy of the measures (articles 24, 25 GDPR);
  • SA’s power to request information from controller or processor (Section 157, Italian Data protection Code)
  • SA’s power to request information from controller or processor (Section 157 and 166 par.2, Italian Data protection Code)

Decision: Infringement of the GDPR, reprimand to the controller, order to bring processing into compliance, administrative fine
Key words: purpose limitation, order to provide information, lawfulness of processing, data subject’s consent 

Summary of the Decision

Origin of the case

Complaint by data subject

Key Findings

Exchanges of information on a social network are only intended to enable what is set out in the relevant terms of service, which are relied upon by the data subject in determining the purposes of all processing operations. The Italian SA decided to step in against a real estate agency that offered its services to a lady owning a flat by using her contact information on LinkedIn.


The decision clarified that the platform is intended to enable exchanges of contact information to provide job opportunities; it is not envisaged that users may rely on it to send messages in order to sell products or services to other users regardless of whether this is what their core business consists in.

Against this backdrop, the fact that a user profile is public or not is irrelevant. What matters is the purpose sought by sending the message, which was a promotional one in this case; such purpose conflicts with the one set out in the terms of service for the social network in question.

The Italian SA found the processing to be unlawful and reprimanded the estate agency whilst ordering it to take suitable organisational measures. The SA considered this to be both sufficient and proportionate as a corrective measure in the light of several circumstances – namely, the controller is a small business, exposed to the economic crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic; this was the first proceeding involving such controller; only one message was targeted directly to the complainant. However, the controller was fined EUR 5,000 on account of its failure to reply to repeated requests for information submitted by the Italian SA; the administrative fine was found to be both proportionate and dissuasive taking account of the controller’s economic status.

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