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Italy: Garante publishes order against GEDI Gruppo Editoriale following publication of private messages in newspaper

The Italian data protection authority ('Garante') issued, on 31 March 2022, its decision in which it imposed, as a matter of urgency, on GEDI Gruppo Editoriale S.p.A. a provisional limitation of any further dissemination of personal data, citing Articles 4, 9, and 85 of the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) ('GDPR'), Article 137(3) of the Personal Data Protection Code, Containing Provisions to Adapt the National Legislation to the GDPR ('the Code'), and Articles 5, 6, and 11 of the Deontological Rules relating to the Processing of Personal Data in the Exercise of Journalistic Activity ('the Deontological Rules'), following a press release on the same.

Background to the case

In particular, the Garante noted that the newspaper La Repubblica, published by GEDI Gruppo Editoriale, had reported a news story involving the alleged romantic relationship between the head of a high school and a student, including the names of the parties involved, some photographs, and the transcript of some messages, of private nature, that the parties are alleged to have exchanged.

Findings of the Garante

Further to the above, the Garante highlighted that, according to Article 137(3) of the Code, in the dissemination of personal data for journalistic purposes, the freedom of the press must be reconciled with the dignity and fundamental freedoms of the persons concerned, and the essential nature of the information with regards to facts of public interest must always be respected. In addition, the Garante outlined that similar principles are enshrined in the Deontological Rules, and that the same must be interpreted with particular rigour in reference to information relating to the sexual sphere.

Additionally, the Garante observed that the details described and commented upon in the articles published were not necessary to shed light on the matter, on which an investigation by the competent authorities is under way. As such, the Garante determined that the the need to guarantee the confidentiality and dignity of the persons involved required urgent action to limit the further dissemination of their personal data. Accordingly, the Garante imposed on Gedi Gruppo Editoriale, as data controller, the measure of the provisional restriction of the processing of the personal data in question, with immediate effect from the date of receipt of the decision. However, the Garante noted that it reserves the right to make any other determination once the preliminary investigation into the case has been completed.

Outcomes

In conclusion, the Garante imposed the aforementioned order and indicated to GEDI Gruppo Editoriale to communicate, within 3 days, the measures taken to comply with the order and to provide adequately documented feedback. Lastly, the Garante highlighted that GEDI Gruppo Editoriale may lodge an appeal against the decision before the judicial authority.

You can read the decision, only available in Italian, here.