EU data protection rules abused to censor media

Two years after its launch and the EU’s data protection rules have been used to muzzle journalists in Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, according to new research.

And NGOs have been targeted in Poland, after one provided searchable access to public data contained in the Polish National Court Register.

Known as the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, the EU rules have been commended for protecting privacy rights, but also with promises of hefty penalties for violations by big techs firms and others.

But some national authorities have also used it to intimidate and censor media. Among them was the head of Slovakia’s data protection authority, Soňa Pőtheová.

Last December, she suggested a possible €10m fine against a Czech investigative outlet called Investigace.cz unless they revealed their anonymous sources.

“Pőtheová clearly abused her power and harassed journalists,” said Beata Balogova, editor-in-chief of Slovakia’s largest independent newspaper Sme, in an email on Monday (25 May).

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