EU court of justices rules against personal data on website

By EDRi · November 19, 2003

Pointing to different persons on a website and making them recognisable by
naming them or in any other manner is an act of processing of personal
data and must therefore be dealt with under EU Directive 95/46/EC. That’s
the substance of a recent judgement of the European Court of Justice
(reference number C-101/01; case Bodil Lindqvist). It is the first time
this court has ruled on the scope of the data protection directive and
freedom of movement for such data on the internet.

Back in 1998, the Swedish Mrs. Bodil Lindqvist had posted personal
information, meant to be humorous, about herself and 18 of her colleagues
at a local church. Among other things she mentioned that one of her
colleagues had fallen off a ladder and broken her ankle. In 2001, she was
convicted to pay approximately 500 Euro for an infringement of PUL, the
Swedish Data Protection law. Mrs. Bodil complained with the Higher Court,
the Göta Hovrätt. This court, located in the town of Jönköping in Central
Sweden, said it would not decide before a verdict from the Strasbourg
court on the question whether the PUL was in line with the Data Protection
Directive. In the meantime, Mrs. Bodil got much support from the Union of
Investigative Journalists and other activists who claimed her case was
about freedom of speech. The EU Court of Justice now confirmed the ruling
by the court of first instance on the basis of the PUL, making it more
than likely that the Göta Hovrätt will rule likewise.

Judgement by EU Court of Justice (06.11.2003)

Bodil Lindqvist’s homepage (in Swedish)

(Contribution by Andreas Dietl, EDRI EU affairs director)