In the decision of December 18, 2019, GZ: DSBD123.768/0004-DSB/2019, the data protection authority had to deal with a balancing of the right to confidentiality against the right to freedom of expression. The complainant belongs to a political party and is a city councilor of an Austrian municipality. In November, the municipality held a meeting on the “parking concept”, to which a specific group of addressees, including the complainant, was invited. The complainant did not participate in this meeting due to an incorrect delivery of the invitation.
The respondent, another political party, then posted an entry on its public Facebook page, in which criticism of the complainant’s non-appearance was made in an exaggerated manner.
The data protection authority dismissed the complaint. On the one hand, it was determined that even if the term “journalism” is interpreted broadly, no processing for journalistic purposes can be identified in the proceedings. Since § 9 para. 1 DPA does not apply, the data protection authority had jurisdiction.
Furthermore, the data protection authority found that the posting was a contribution to a debate of public interest, namely whether the complainant, as a politician and person of public interest, was fulfilling his duties or requirements as a city councilor. According to Rsp. of the Supreme Court, the limits of permissible criticism are to be interpreted more broadly with regard to a politician acting in his or her public capacity than with regard to a private individual. Every politician inevitably and willingly exposes himself to scrutiny of his words and deeds not only by journalists and the wider public, but especially by his political opponents.
Furthermore, the use of the complainant’s data that was the subject of the proceedings was not unlawful because this form of political
Work coverage in § 1 para. 2 PartG, and thus in a legal basis within the meaning of § 1 para. 2 DSG, finds.