Lisbon fined for sharing protesters’ data with targeted embassies

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Lisbon Mayor Fernando Medina celebrates his re-election win in Lisbon, Portugal October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes/File Photo

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LISBON, Jan 14 (Reuters) – Lisbon City Hall has been fined 1.2 million euros ($1.4 million) for sharing protest organizers’ personal details with the countries‘ embassies. targeted by the protests, the Portuguese data protection commission announced on Friday.

The mayor’s office came under fire in June 2021 when Ksenia Ashrafullina, a Russian-Portuguese organizer of a protest rally in Lisbon, said she received an email saying the town hall had shared data about her and other organizers with the Russian Embassy. Read more

After an internal investigation, it was revealed that data on the organizers of 180 protests had been shared with embassies since 2012, including 52 after the European Union‘s General Data Protection Regulation came into force in 2018 – which prohibits this sharing of data.

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The town hall, then headed by the socialist mayor Fernando Medina, shared the data of the demonstrators in front of the Cuban, Angolan, Venezuelan and Israeli embassies with the targeted institutions.

The decision of the data protection commission (CNPD), published on its website, indicates that between 2018 and 2021, there were a total of 225 data breaches committed by the town hall related to the sharing of personal information of protesters with embassies and other entities.

In a statement, the mayor’s office, now headed by Social Democrat Carlos Moedas, said the decision was a “heavy legacy that the previous leadership… left to the people of Lisbon”, adding that the fine was now a budget challenge.

“We will assess this fine in detail and how best to protect the interests of citizens and the institution,” he said.

Medina did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ashrafullina, who organized the rally in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, told Reuters she was happy with the CNPD’s decision: “We were waiting for it, and it finally came.”

But Ashrafullina is still afraid of the consequences of data sharing.

“I worry about what would happen if I ever had to go back to Russia,” she said.

($1 = 0.8772 euros)

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Reporting by Catarina Demony Editing by Sergio Goncalves and Mark Potter

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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