On 19th March the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament considered the petition of the European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) regarding violations by Lithuanian authorities of the European Parliament and Council Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals due to processing of personal data and the free flow of this data.
In 2011 the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania sent the letter to 26, 000 representatives of national minorities in Lithuania (Poles, Russians and Belarusians) containing information about amendments to the Law on Education. The letter was sent in different national minority languages and included many grammatical mistakes and, as for the writing style, it was offensive to the national minorities concerned.
EFHR made a complaint to the State Data Protection Inspectorate in Lithuania (Valstybinė duomenų apsaugos inspekcija) as well as to the public prosecutor’s office. The Inspectorate dismissed the complaint of EFHR, but recognized that one could come to a conclusion about the ethnic origin of the students if possessing data on the language of teaching and the native language. On 15th November, 2011, the Inspectorate issued an official recommendation for the Ministry, saying that “…if, in the future, the Ministry of Education and Science process data on the language of teaching and the native language of students, from what has been given in the Register, it should specify the need and appropriateness of data as related to the criterion of special categories of personal data included in the Law on the Legal Protection of Personal Data”.
Taking into account the passiveness and the lack of an adequate response from the Lithuanian state institutions, EFHR directed the petition to the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament.
During the petition being considered, EFHR, represented by assistant attorney at law, Ewelina Baliko, drew the Committee’s attention to the fact that no one had agreed to have their sensitive data disclosed and used in such a way.
According to EFHR, such behaviour on the part of the Ministry, as well as the inaction of state institutions, prove a direct violation of Article 8 (1) of the Directive 95/46/EC.
The Committee on Petitions decided to further examine the EFHR petitions. What is more, the European Commission announced that it would carry out a deeper analysis of this case and the situation of sensitive personal data being processed in Lithuania.
Translated by: Roksana Kasperek
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