Lisbon is being fined for leaking data from protesters to targeted embassies

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LISBON, Jan 14 (Reuters) – The Lisbon mayor’s office has been fined 1.2 million euros ($1.4 million) for leaking the personal details of protest organizers to embassies of countries affected 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 in Lisbon, said she received an email showing the city hall shared data on her and other organizers with the Russian Embassy shared. Continue reading

Following an internal investigation, it emerged that data on the organizers of 180 protests had been shared with embassies since 2012, 52 of which came into effect after the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation – which bans such sharing of data – came into force in 2018. read more

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The city hall, then led by Socialist mayor Fernando Medina, shared data from demonstrators in front of the Cuban, Angolan, Venezuelan and Israeli embassies with the institutions concerned.

The Privacy Commission (CNPD) decision, published on its website, says that between 2018 and 2021, a total of 225 data breaches were committed by the mayor’s office in connection with the disclosure of protesters’ personal data to 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 left by the previous leadership… to the people of Lisbon,” adding that the fine now poses a challenge for represent the household.

“We will examine this fine in detail and examine how the interests of the citizens and the institution can best be protected,” it said.

Medina did not immediately respond to a request for comment

Ashrafullina, who organized the rally in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, told Reuters she was pleased with the CNPD’s decision: “We’ve been 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 return 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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