Austrian marketeer condemned by privacy authority

By EDRi · December 30, 2004

The Austrian data protection commission has condemned the marketing firm
dm-plus. The firm created a CD-ROM for the company Herold with name and
address data of over 4 million Austrian citizens. The disk also contained
additional information about 2 million Austrians, such as date of birth,
title, type of household, income and civil status. Herold was awarded the
people’s choice Big Brother Award in 2003. More than 80% of the 250
nominations concerned this company.

Arge Daten, a not-for-profit, non-governmental Austrian privacy
organisation, demanded access and correction of the stored data on behalf
of several members. The replies were not satisfactory. Arge Daten then
sent formal complaints to the data protection authority (DSK) but these
complaints were ignored. Only after several complaints to the
administrative court did the data protection authority investigate the
matter. In this first decision, the Commission objects especially to the
collection of the exact dates of birth. Secondly, the company is
reproached for not telling about the purposes of the data processing, and
the further processing by third parties, including both Herold and the
mother company in Switzerland (where data were allegedly sent for ‘back-up

But Arge Daten is disappointed Herold nor dm-plus had to answer questions
about the origins of the collected data. The Commission agreed the company
would incur disproportionate costs by such an obligation. According to
Arge Daten this is nonsense, since companies that specialise in collecting
and processing data can easily add a unique originating code to each batch
of data.

DSK-Entscheidung zu Herold-Datenlieferanten (18.12.2004)

Österreich: Adressensammler verletzt Datenschutz (25.12.2004)