During its 26th plenary session, the EDPB adopted a letter in response to requests from MEPs Metsola and Halicki regarding the Polish presidential elections taking place via postal vote. Additionally, an exchange of information took place on the recent Hungarian government decrees in relation to the coronavirus during the state of emergency
In its response to the MEPs Metsola and Halicki, the EDPB indicates that it is aware that data of Polish citizens was sent from the national PESEL (personal identification) database to the Polish Post by one of the Polish ministries and acknowledges that this issue requires special attention.
The Board underlines that, according to the GDPR, personal data, such as names and addresses, and national identification numbers (such as the Polish PESEL ID), must be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner, for specified purposes only. Public authorities may disclose information on individuals included in electoral lists, but only when this is specifically authorised by Member State law. The EDPB underlined that the disclosure of personal data – from one entity to another – always requires a legal basis in accordance with EU data protection laws. As previously indicated in the EDPB statement on the use of personal data in political campaigns (2/2019), political parties and candidates - but also public authorities, particularly those responsible for public registers - must stand ready to demonstrate how they have complied with data protection principles. The EDPB also underlined that, where elections are conducted by the collection of postal votes, it is the responsibility of the state to ensure that specific safeguards are in place to maintain the secrecy and integrity of the personal data concerning political opinions.
EDPB Chair, Andrea Jelinek, added: “Elections form the cornerstone of every democratic society. That is why the EDPB has always dedicated special attention to the processing of personal data for election purposes. We encourage data controllers, especially public authorities, to lead by example and process personal data in a manner which is transparent and leaves no doubt regarding the legal basis for the processing operations, including disclosure of data.”
However, the EDPB stresses that enforcement of the GDPR lies with the national supervisory authorities. The EDPB is not a data protection supervisory authority in its own right and, as such, does not have the same competences, tasks and powers as the national supervisory authorities. In the first instance, the assessment of alleged GDPR infringements falls within the competence of the responsible and independent national supervisory authority. Nevertheless, the EDPB will continue to pay special attention to the developments of personal data processing in connection to democratic elections and remains ready to support all members of the Board, including the Polish Supervisory Authority, in such matters.
During the plenary, the Hungarian Supervisory Authority provided the Board with information on the legislative measures the Hungarian government has adopted in relation to the coronavirus during the state of emergency. The Board considers that further explanation is necessary and has thus requested that the Hungarian Supervisory Authority provides further information on the scope and the duration, as well as the Hungarian Supervisory Authority’s opinion on the necessity and proportionality of these measures. The Board will discuss this further during its plenary session next Tuesday.
The agenda of the 26th plenary is available here
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Please note that all documents adopted during the EDPB Plenary are subject to the necessary legal, linguistic and formatting checks and will be made available on the EDPB website once these have been completed.