Cyprus Mail

Election candidates warned over personal data abuse

Nicolas Papadopoulos

The Personal Data Protection commissioner has reprimanded presidential candidate Nicolas Papadopoulos for contacting voters indiscriminately as part of his election campaign and told all candidates violating the law they will be fined.

After receiving many complaints from the public over calls from election candidates, commissioner Irene Loizidou has sent the provisions of the law on personal data protection to all candidates as a final warning.

“The instructions are clear and binding,” Loizidou told the Cyprus Mail.

She added that now the regulations have been made known to all presidential candidates, no more leniency will be shown.

Papadopoulos’ camp has been singled out in particular with Loizidou issuing the party a final warning after complaints from the public regarding party phone calls.

So far, she said, the commission office would follow up individual complaints by contacting the party in question and then send a warning, asking for the personal data of the complainant to be removed from their records.

“But this is a very time-consuming procedure. Now, we have sent them all a more binding framework,” Loizidou said. Offenders may be slapped with fines of up to €30,000.

Candidates have been reminded that personal data such as phone numbers are not to be used by anyone for the purpose of promoting, selling or delivering goods or services, unless the person in question gives their consent in writing.

Callers that wish to process personal data for these purposes, can only use the name and address of persons provided they were obtained from sources accessible to the public.

For telephone calls to the public, the commissioner said, election campaigners must be able to provide all documents proving that they had obtained the written permission of persons before calling them.

As for text messages, emails or fax, or automated phone calls with recorded messages, election campaigners may use data of users who have given their prior consent. Political parties may send messages to their registered members on behalf of candidates but they cannot provide the personal details of their members to the candidates.

In addition, senders of messages must provide the receiver a free-of-charge opt-out option.  Loizidou said that in May a student body was fined €1,000 for violating the personal data law.


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