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Jurisprudence

Dutch court rules that WiFi hacking is legal

23 March, 2011
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This article is also available in:
Deutsch: Niederlande: Hacken von WLAN-Verbindungen nicht rechtswidrig


A Dutch court in The Hague has recently ruled that by-passing an encrypted router and using its WiFi connection does not infringe Dutch law.

The decision of the court comes in relation to the case of a young man having posted a threat on an Internet message board by using a WiFi connection he had hacked into.

ICO started applying fines for Data Protection Act breaches

1 December, 2010
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This article is also available in:
Deutsch: ICO verhängt erste Strafen für Datenschutz-Verstöße


After having received increased powers in April 2010, the UK Data protection authority (Information Commissioner Office - ICO) has recently used these powers to fine an organisation and a local authority for having breached the Data Protection Act.

Hertfordshire County Council has been fined with about 120 000 Euro for the fact that its employees sent highly sensitive information by fax to the wrong recipients twice, once in June to a member of the public instead of a barrister and the second time, 13 days later, to the office of an unconnected barrister instead of the Watford County Court.

"The Commissioner ru

Highest court France defends workfloor privacy once more

2 June, 2005
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On 17 May 2005 the highest court in France, the cour de Cassation, has destroyed an appeal verdict from November 2002 that allowed companies to search the computers of their employees for unwanted internet behaviour. At the very least, the employee must be warned before and be present if a search is conducted.

The medical supplies company Nycomed Amersham Medical System (later renamed Cathnet-Science) searched the computer of their employee after somebody had found erotic pictures in his drawer (in his absence). The highest court found the subsequent dismissal unacceptable and has referred the case back to the appeal court of Versailles, to decide on the fate of the employee and a possible reimbursement for damages.

It is the second time the French cour de Cassation upholds the privacy of employees. In an earlier case an employee of Nikon was dismissed after having used his workfloor computer for private activities. On 2 October 2001 the French cour de Cassation destroyed the decision validating this dismissal as well, similarly basing their condemnation of the computer search on article 8 of the ECHR, article 9 of the French Civil Code and articles 120-122 of the Working Code.

Court condemns illegal snooping by Sonera

2 June, 2005
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The district court of Helsinki, Finland, has decided telecommunication company Sonera seriously violated telecommunication privacy between 1998 and 2001. On 27 May 2005 the court handed down suspended sentences to five employees for their unauthorised use of mobile telephone records. Sonera executives ordered a detailed examination of the telephone behaviour of employees, to find out who had been leaking information to the press. But on another occasion the security staff also voluntarily and without any legal basis provided traffic data to the National Bureau of Investigation, the Security Police and the Helsinki Police to help investigate the murder of a prostitute.

The Finnish newspaper Helsingi Sanomat reports: "The harshest sentence was handed down to former Information Security Manager Juha E. Miettinen, who got a ten-month suspended jail term. (....) The defendants claimed that digging up the information was part of a legal investigation into suspected wrongdoing. (....But) the court did not believe the claims of Miettinen, generally seen as the main defendant, who said that he had misunderstood the law. The court noted that Miettinen had written books on data protection, spoken at seminars in the field, and taken part at least to some extent in legislative work on the matter."

First fines for Dutch spammers

30 December, 2004
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For the first time since the spam-ban went into force in the Netherlands (19 May 2004) the Dutch regulatory authority OPTA has fined Dutch spammers. One spammer is accused of having sent 4 spam-runs and now faces a fine of 42.500 euro. Two of his spams advertised a CD-ROM with invoice-software, another one was directly aimed at discrediting the most famous spam-fighter in the Netherlands, Rejo Zenger. His organisation Spamvrij maintained an on-line blacklist of notorious Dutch spammers. The spammer tried to make it look as if Rejo Zenger had sent spam advertising the book Mein Kampf.

OPTA has also fined an SMS-spammer with 20.000 euro in total, for sending unsolicited SMS's costing the recipient 1,10 euro per message, without providing any unsubscribe options.

Currently, in the Netherlands only natural persons are protected against

Austrian marketeer condemned by privacy authority

30 December, 2004
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The Austrian data protection commission has condemned the marketing firm dm-plus. The firm created a CD-ROM for the company Herold with name and address data of over 4 million Austrian citizens. The disk also contained additional information about 2 million Austrians, such as date of birth, title, type of household, income and civil status. Herold was awarded the people's choice Big Brother Award in 2003. More than 80% of the 250 nominations concerned this company.

Arge Daten, a not-for-profit, non-governmental Austrian privacy organisation, demanded access and correction of the stored data on behalf of several members. The replies were not satisfactory. Arge Daten then sent formal complaints to the data protection authority (DSK) but these complaints were ignored. Only after several complaints to the

XS4ALL wins appeal in Dutch spam case

24 March, 2004
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The Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that the Dutch internet provider XS4ALL is permitted to refuse spam on its network. It is the first time that a supreme court in Europe has ruled on the rights of spammers.

In the view of the Supreme Court, the fact "that XS4ALL has exclusive rights to its computer capacity, transmission capacity and customer base (its computer system)" outweighs the appeal made by AbFab for freedom of speech. Providers in the Netherlands have no conveyance obligation, not even if the spammer offers specific payment for the costs of relaying the spam (a spam-stamp). Based on this judgement, all providers in the Netherlands can impose an a priori ban on the sending of spam, even when addressed to their business customers. This judgement therefore goes further than the new spam legislation planned for the Netherlands

Polish government allowed to send SMS-spam

28 January, 2004
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According to a recent decision from the Polish Data Protection Authority (Generalny Inspektor Ochrony Danych Osobowych - GIODO) a massive SMS-spamrun from the Polish government was perfectly legal. A governmental agency committed this run in June 2003 as a last-minute reminder to citizens of the upcoming referendum about the European Union.

Of the 30 million Polish inhabitants 58.85% were eligible to vote, and no less than 77.45% of them voted in favour of joining the European Union in the referendum held on 7 and 8 June.

The Bureau for European Integration managed to send all owners of mobile phones in Poland an SMS-message reminding them that they could vote until 20:00 PM. Only the people that had previously opted-out with their operator were excluded.

One of the spammed cell phone owners decided to complain about his telecom operator for this violation of his private data. However, according to the Polish Privacy Authority this spam was not unlawful, since it was not a commercial message. Sending commercial messages towards individuals by means of electronic communication is forbidden since 10 March 2003 under the Polish law concerning the provision of electronic services (adopted on 18 July 2002). Spamming is not forbidden for privacy-reasons, but because it is considered unfair competition. The Bureau for European Integration was allowed to send the SMS-spam because of its legal mission: promote public knowledge about European integration in Poland.

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