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Is there a threat to objective journalism in the draft amendments to the Personal Data Protection Act?

23 January 2019

In an interview for the morning block of Bloomberg TV, att.Desislava Krusteva, a partner at Dimitrov, Petrov & Co. Law Firm and a leading expert at the Law and Internet Foundation, commented on important topics of the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) and its implementation in Bulgaria.

On the occasion of the current public debate on the envisaged amendments to the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) which raise concerns about imposing of censorship on free journalism, att. Krusteva stressed that EU policy requires each Member State to strike a balance between the freedom of speech as an irrevocable civil right and the personal data protection. Like any other business, all media have to ensure compliance with the EU Data Protection Regulation.

According to the legal expert, the introduction of criteria to be taken into account when assessing the lawful processing of personal data by journalists does not contradict with the Regulation. Such list of criteria would serve as a guidance and would be useful in case of conflict between freedom of expression and the right of information, on one hand, and the respect for privacy and protection of personal data, on the other.

Commenting on some of the proposed amendments to the PDPA which according to experts, pose a threat to media freedom, att.Desislava Krusteva noted that in any case, the decisions of the Commission for Personal Data Protection are subject to judicial review. There are also mechanisms for control on European Union level.

In the interview with Bloomberg TV, att. Krusteva shared personal observations related to the misconception spread among Bulgarian business circles that the long-awaited amendments and additions to the PDPA will lead to a simplified regime regarding the implementation of mandatory personal data protection measures. She stressed that the General Data Protection Regulation had entered into full force on 25 May 2018 and introduction of lower local requirements is definitely not possible. Ensuring compliance of each organization with the Regulation is a serious challenge that takes time and comes along with the need of expert advice, especially in the light of the sanctions imposed by the European competent authorities.

Atty. Krusteva is head of the Privacy and Data Protection Practice Group at Dimitrov, Petrov & Co. Desislava Krusteva is a Certified International Privacy Professional for Europe (CIPP/E) and Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM) by IAPP.

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