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Abuse of personal data in Bulgaria continues, official says

Author: Rene Beekman Date: Mon, Feb 15 2010 2935 Views
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Companies are continuing to collect more personal data than absolutely necessary, Bulgarian Commission for Personal Data Protection (CPDP) chairperson Veneta Shopova said.

The practice of scanning or photo-copying ID documents was continuing, despite this being against Bulgarian law, Shopava said in an interview with Bulgarian news agency BTA.

Among the companies that abused personal data were mobile operators. Almost every month the commission received tip-offs from people whose personal data had been abused, Shopova said.

The most frequent complaint was about the sale of mobile phone packages with a SIM card for which the client had never signed, but for which was billed.  Such cases were referred to law enforcement authorities, Shopova said.

"There have been several cases in which, in order to keep things quiet and avoid subsequent action, operators would write a letter, waiving the due sum. In these cases, it has been clear that the abused personal data did not come from an outsider, but from employees at the company," Shopova was quoted by BTA as saying.

The practice of collecting more personal data than absolutely necessary continued as well, Shopova said. As an example she pointed out the electronic card system for public transport. The system used one single form where health-related data had to filled in, regardless of whether or not the applicant wanted a reduced price card for physically handicapped, she said.

Photo-copying or scanning of ID documents still continued, albeit less than before, Shopova said.

"We have had a long battle over this, but it still continues. And the argument as to why companies do it is illogical: they treat each customer as possibly insolvent or possibly criminal, so they want to have as much data as possible, just in case the client one day stops paying," Shopova said.

For a service contract, the only data that is necessary is the full name, address and EGN (Bulgarian social security number) or the number of the client's ID documents, she said.

Shopova said there had been several cases of abuse of personal data by Bulgarian media.

"In one case, the medical records of [television host] Slavi Trifonov were published, now we have a case in which a prosecutor's documents, which contained a lot of personal data, have been published," she said.

There had been one case in which someone's religious beliefs had been published. "She filed a complaint, but we did not find that to be abuse of personal data," Shopova said.

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