The conditions under which petition platforms can send automated emails have been clarified by the Belgian DPA

Discover the changes

Petition platforms enable people to collect online signatures in support of a given cause. One of the leading petition platform companies allows petition initiators to indicate the email address of people identified as key “decision makers”, who then receive frequent update emails regarding the number of signatures collected and messages from the participants.

The claimant in this particular case had been designated as a key decision maker and received numerous emails about an online petition. In its decision no. 140/2021, the Belgian Data Protection Authority had to weigh the constitutional right to issue a petition against a decision maker's right to privacy.

The Authority decided that petition platforms and petition initiators could be considered as joint controllers with regards to the processing of the decision makers’ personal data. As a result, the petition platforms must put in place sufficient safeguards to protect any decision maker’s right to privacy, by informing them about the processing of their personal data according to the GDPR, and by helping decision makers in the exercise of their rights, especially the right to object to the processing of their personal data.

Members of the Data protection team of Deloitte Legal, Matthias Vierstraete, Robert Unusyan and Dorien Cuyt were involved in the case as counsels of the claimant.

Read the full decision here.

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