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November 27, 2003Private or free? The EU appears to be moving towards much tougher regulation of the internet on the grounds of privacy, following a landmark ruling upholding a Norwegian decision to fine a woman who had set up a website giving information to church parishioners.
According to Out-Law.com, Mrs Lindqvist's mistake was to give out information about her fellow church volunteers (names, telephone numbers etc) without their explicit permission. She also revealed that one lady had injured her foot and was working part-time on medical grounds.
Mrs Lindqvist appealed after being fined over US$500 in a lower court. Eventually her case was heard by the European Court of Justice, which ruled "that the act of referring, on an internet page, to various persons and identifying them by name or by other means, for instance by giving their telephone number or information regarding their working conditions and hobbies, constitutes the processing of personal data wholly or partly by automatic means within the meaning of [the Directive]."
The Register also reports this story and warns that any business with a website should expect a crackdown from the European Data Protection Registrars.
Anders Jacobsen is on the case too, wondering whether this could spell the end of photoblogging in Europe - the new trend of blogging from a mobile phone.
"This effectively, as far as I can see, blocks photoblogging and mobile phone blogging (of photos of people taken in Europe or of any Europeans(?)) without a model release form," he writes. "End of story. Sad but true. It actually also impacts to a great extent about what you can write about non-relatives in your blog."