Putting a finish to Finnish practice

Jeremy Phillips

Yesterday’s International Law Office carries an article, “Data Protection Board issues new tax data processing decision” by Sakari Aalto (Roschier Attorneys Ltd, Helsinki). This discusses the Board’s ruling in a matter involving a publication, Veropörssi (‘Tax Exchange’), which was remitted to it by the Supreme Administrative Court. The happy ending, if you are a tax payer, is that the Board has now complied with the demands of the data protection ombudsman, ordering Veropörssi’s publishers Satakunnan Markkinapörssi Oy and Satamedia Oy to stop processing and publishing tax data from relating to individuals and which had been collected from the tax authorities.

Together with Satamedia (a related company), Markkinapörssi had signed an agreement with a telephone operator to put in place a pay-for text message service which would enable mobile telephone users to receive information published in Veropörssi. According to the Board, only tax data processing in the internal registries of Markkinapörssi and for journalistic purposes could be regarded as comprising “journalistic activities”, in accordance with Finland’s Personal Data Act (523/1999), thus falling within the restricted derogations and limitations in relation to the protection of privacy under the Act. However, the publication of the tax data in the form of extensive lists in Veropörssi was considered to constitute a handling of personal data which was prohibited in the absence of any specific justification in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

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