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Accusations of extensive personal data leak during European election campaign

Question écrite de M. Stelios KOULOGLOU - Commission européenne

Question de M. Stelios KOULOGLOU,

Diffusée le 29 février 2024

Subject: Accusations of extensive personal data leak during European election campaign

On the morning of 1 March 2024, Greek voters who, in 2023, had registered on the electoral roll of Greek citizens residing abroad, received an email from the Greek Ministry of the Interior informing them that they could register to vote by post in the European elections on 9 June 2024. The email was sent to their personal email addresses.

Minutes earlier or later, the same voters received another email, again in their personal inbox, from the MEP Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou promoting her electoral campaign to voters who exercise the right to vote by post.

Following complaints about data held by the Ministry of the Interior being leaked to a politician, Ms Asimakopoulou claimed that she had gathered the email addresses during her term as an MEP1. However, the recipients of the email contradict this claim.

In view of this:

1. Is the Commission aware of this incident?

2. How will it deal with the potential violation of the regulation on the transparency and targeting of political advertising, which was adopted three days ago?

3. How will it contribute to a fair electoral process in the upcoming European elections, especially in Greece?

Submitted:1.3.2024 mp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 18 avril 2024

Answer given by Vice-President Jourová on behalf of the European Commission (19 April 2024)

Regulation (EU) 2024/900 on the transparency and targeting of political advertising entered into force on 9 April 2024. Most of its provisions including those on the processing of personal data will enter into application in October 2025.

Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (General Data Protection Regulation — GDPR) provides that any processing of personal data, including collection, storage and disclosure, must be based on one of the legal grounds of processing and must comply with all other obligations, including the obligation to take appropriate data security measures.

Member States have a primary responsibility to monitor the application of the relevant legal provisions and to take the necessary steps for enforcement. Enforcement of the GDPR lies with the national data protection authorities and courts.

Any natural and legal persons acting as a controller or processor of personal data, including public authorities such as the Greek Ministry of Interior, are subject to the GDPR.

The Commission understands that the Greek data protection authority has launched an investigation into this matter following receipt of a high number of complaints. The Commission will monitor the situation and may decide to take appropriate action.

To contribute to the 2024 elections to the European Parliament, the Commission issued a recommendation on inclusive and resilient elections on 12 December 2023.

It encourages European and national political parties to clearly identify their political ads and to make available information about the identity of the political party which sponsors them and where applicable, meaningful information about their targeting, and on the use of artificial intelligence systems in the preparation of the content or the dissemination of the ads.

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