Belgian Data Protection Authority imposed a fine of 5.000 EUR on local election candidate

10 June 2020

The Litigation Chamber of the Belgian Data Protection Authority imposed a fine of 5.000 EUR on a candidate in local elections for using the staff registry of a municipality to send election propaganda (in the form of a letter) to staff members. The Belgian municipality in question filed the complaint against the candidate.

The Litigation Chamber established the following elements:
-    A legal person (in this case the municipality) is entitled to file a complaint with the DPA.
-    Contrary to what was said by the defendant, the communication didn’t amount to normal communication between a municipal councilor, which the defendant was at the time, and municipal staff. The content of the letter sent shows that it was indeed election propaganda.
-    A violation of article 5, 1., b (purpose limitation) occurred, considering that the staff register is not meant to be used for other purposes than the internal management of the municipality
-    The Litigation Chamber could find no legal basis for a lawful processing of data from the staff register and therefore also concluded in a violation of articles 5, 1., a) and 6, 1 (lawfulness of processing).
The imposition of a fine of 5.000 EUR was done on the basis of previous similar decisions by the Litigation Chamber of the BE DPA, where it had found that further processing of data gathered for municipal purposes with the intent of using them for political propaganda violated the principles of lawful processing and of purpose limitation.
The Litigation Chamber also considers that the defendant’s other positions in public service should have led him to a greater respect for rules on electoral campaigning, which include data protection rules.

To read the full decision in French, click here

For further information, please contact the Belgian DPA:

The press release published here does not constitute official EDPB communication, nor an EDPB endorsement. This press release was originally published by the national supervisory authority and was published here at the request of the SA for information purposes. As the press release is represented here as it appeared on the SA's website or other channels of communication, the news item is only available in English or in the Member State's official language with a short introduction in English. Any questions regarding this press release should be directed to the supervisory authority concerned.