"Referring to various persons on an internet page and identifying them either by name or by other means constitutes processing of personal data by automatic means within the meaning of Community law."In the light of this decision an interesting question arises: does a weblog posting, which is citing another person or linking to another person's homepage has now to be seen as "processing of personal data by automatic means" ?
If this is the case, European bloggers, or any private person that publishes things on the Internet, could face some serious legal problems, because the processing of personal data by automatic means is heavily regulated. What this could mean shows the underlying case for this decision:
Mrs Lindqvist was involved in preparing people for Communion in the parish of Alseda (Sweden). At the end of 1998 she set up internet pages on her personal computer at home to enable parishioners preparing for Confirmation to obtain easily the information they were likely to need. Those pages contained information on Mrs Lindqvist and 18 of her colleagues in the parish, including their first names and sometimes their full names.This does look like Mrs Lindqvist was fined for things that nearly every blogger does every day, doesn't it ?
Mrs Lindqvist also described the work done by her colleagues and their hobbies in mildly humorous terms. In several cases their family circumstances, their telephone number and other information were given. She also mentioned that one of her colleagues had injured her foot and was working part-time on medical grounds.
Mrs Lindqvist was fined SEK 4 000 (approximately EUR 450) for processing personal data by automatic means without notifying the Datainspektion (Swedish supervisory authority for the protection of electronically transmitted data) in writing, for transferring data to third countries without authorisation and for processing sensitive personal data (a foot injury and part time work on medical grounds).