Romania: Moral damages for publishing personal data online

By EDRi · February 24, 2010

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Deutsch: [Rumänien: Schadensersatz aufgrund des Online-Veröffentlichens persönlicher Daten |]

A Romanian local court has decided to award 10 000 Euro as moral damages to
a private person, after his full details were published on the website of
the City Hall, including his HIV-related problems.

In June 2008, Bucharest District 1 City Hall published on its website
some decisions of the Local Council on the beneficiaries of free public
transport by subway for persons with severe handicap. The decisions were
published together with the annexes that contain all the personal data of
the respective persons (name and surname, address, ID card number, Unique
Personal Code Number and description of its respective disability).

The citizen who was on that list and initiated the action claimed moral
damages, considering that the data should not have been made public, but
just sent to the subway administration. He also claimed that he and his
parents suffered several moral prejudices after this event by the
deterioration of his relations with friends and neighbours. He actually was
forced to move from that respective location due to this disclosure.

The City Hall argued that they did not intend to discriminate anyone and the
publication of the Annexes was “a technical mistake”.

The Bucharest District 1 Local Court of considered that the conditions
required by the Romanian law on tort had been met , and the City Hall had
breached the complainant’s right to privacy as expressed in Article 8 of the
European Convention of Human Rights, law 677/2001 (Romanian transposition of
the data protection directive) and other specific legislation in the medical
field that oblige the public servants to keep the confidentiality on
patients with HIV positive or having AIDS. Therefore the Court has awarded
damages of 10 000 Euro to the complainant.

The court’s decision was appealed by the City Hall to the Bucharest Tribunal
that rejected the appeal in February 2010. Thus, the initial decision of the
Bucharest District 1 Local Court remains definitive and applicable.

It is probably the first case publicly known in Romania when a person
receives moral damages from a national court on grounds of privacy breach,
after a series of cases at the European Court of Human Rights where Romania
was condemned for breaching Article 8. The decision of the court is also
surprising in regards with the amount awarded, the Romanian courts being
generally very defensive in awarding any moral damages.

Romania: record damages for publishing personal data on a website – contains
also the full court decision (only in Romanian, 18.02.2010)

ECHR case: Rotaru vs. Romania (4.05.2000)