New EU ruling on personal data law across borders

The personal data rules in one EU Member State apply to all companies established in that country, also foreign companies.

The European Court of Justice has ruled on the question (C-230/14) as to whether the Hungarian data protection agency could impose fines on a Slovakian company for violation of the Hungarian personal data rules.

The decisive factor in this respect was whether the Slovakian company was established in Hungary.

The Court found that if the Slovakian company (i) had permanent business activities in Hungary, (ii) a representative in Hungary, (iii) a bank account in Hungary, and (iv) a post office box in Hungary, it was established in Hungary.

BACKGROUND: SLOVAKIAN WEBSITE SELLING HUNGARIAN PROPERTIES

The Slovakian real estate agency Weltimmo's website sold Hungarian properties. Hungarians could advertise for free for one month. Even though the Hungarian advertisers e-mailed the company prior to the expiry of the free month requesting that the advertisement be deleted in the company's database, Weltimmo still sent invoices to the advertisers, and unpaid invoices were referred for collection.

The Hungarian data protection agency imposed a fine on Weltimmo of Euro 32,000. Weltimmo has brought legal action before the Hungarian courts.

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Anders Valentin

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