10 September 2018

I hope that the Hungarian Basketball Association is better at the game than at data protection. Indeed, based on the fresh decision of the Hungarian Data Protection Authority they have serious problems with the latter and their data protection faults have been “awarded” with a fine. Let’s see the mistakes of the Association your company should avoid.

What happened?

Worried parents lodged a complaint against the Basketball Association at the Hungarian Data Protection Authority. The parents were rather unhappy that the Association stored the names, photos, addresses and a bunch of other personal data of their children in a database which was publicly available on the Internet.

The Data Protection Authority started an investigation and came to the conclusion that the database which contains the data of ca. 65.000 players, 31.000 of them minors, is really problematic from data protection point of view. Which were the biggest issues?

The publicity of the database

The Data Protection Authority raised the question what is the purpose with publishing the whole database with the excessive amount of data on the Internet where practically everyone has access to it?

In the Association’s view this was necessary to make it possible to check the players’ game licences and prevent that somebody comes onto court without licence.

Certainly, the Authority could not identify with this explanation. Indeed, the Association’s goal could have been reached by operating an “internal” database with limited access rights provided for example to the judges and coaches. The public database is not only unnecessary but also risky for the security of the players.

It is only the top on the cake that for the identification of the players it would not be necessary to process their addresses or their heights, thus the collection of these data is needless.

Lack of consent

A question of priority was that on what legal basis the Basketball Association processes the published data. The Association claimed that the players have consented to the processing by signing a so-called subjection declaration which was the condition of issuing their game licence.

The Data Protection Authority thoroughly examined the issue and established that during a part of the period considered the Association failed to have signed the subjection declaration by the players so in their case the consent is out of question.

Nevertheless, the consent given in the subjection declaration was also insufficient according to the Authority. Since the Association made the signing of the declaration as the condition of the game licence, the consent cannot be considered as freely given thus it is invalid.

Data storage without purpose

A further problem was that the Association stored the collected data until the player requested the erasure. Therefore, the personal data of those players who have not requested the erasure was also available after they ended their career.

The Authority pointed out that the possibility to check the game licence is obviously not necessary in case of those players who stopped playing officially. In their case the Association stores the data without justified reasons which infringes the principal of purpose limitation.

Lack of prior notification

If the above was not enough, the Association succeeded to make the issue more serious since he has not or has not sufficiently informed the players about the circumstances of the data processing. This is also related to the validity of the consent to the data processing, since without prior notification the consent will not be considered as valid.

According to the Association, until the procedure before the Authority they informed the players in the subjection declaration. However, the notification was not full and contained misleading information. For example, the declaration contains that the Association does not transfer to any third person the collected data and also that he publishes the data on the webpage operated by him. No further data protection knowledge is necessary to recognize the contradiction.

The Association uploaded a privacy policy to his webpage, trying to mitigate the damages, I assume. This privacy policy was also insufficient, since it practically repeated the provisions of the Data Protection Act thus it has not complied with the criteria of readability.

What can you learn from the above?

Always think over what is your goal with the data processing, and do not collect or erase the data which is not necessary for your purposes.

As mentioned several times, only use consent as the basis of data processing if you provide real choice to the data subject to give consent or not to, thus the consent can really be freely given,

Finally, your privacy policy shall contain full and easily understandable information about the data processing. Further, make sure that your privacy policy is provided to your clients.