In a recently published judgment of 17 March 2010, the Court of Appeal of Brussels condemned a political party for illegal processing of personal data without the data subject’s consent. This case concerned the political party’s sending of e-mails to someone who did not give his consent to such processing. The Court found that the political party did not demonstrate having obtained such consent. Hence, the political party was held to have committed a criminal offence and was condemned to pay a fine of EUR 550, while the Court awarded EUR 1 to the civil party. The Court also ordered the publication of that judgment in three national newspapers at the choice of the individual, but at the political party’s expense.

In addition, the Court found that, even though the data subject radically disapproved of the opinions of the political party, sending unsolicited e-mails could not be considered as “critically” threatening the peace of mind of that particular data subject, as prohibited by Article 442bis of the Belgian Criminal Code which provides for a punishment on harassment caused to a person. Also, there was no violation of Article 14 of the E-commerce Act which prohibits the use of emails for marketing purposes without the prior, free, specific and informed consent of the addressee since a political party does not pursue a commercial, industrial or craft activity nor does it exercise a regulated profession as required by Article 2 of the E-commerce Act defining marketing. (NRO)

The case can be found on