Europe’s top court said the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious groups need to follow EU data privacy laws. Jehovah’s Witnesses are seen in Tuuri, Finland, 15 April 2017. Photo credit: Tiia Monto via Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Door-to-door preachers do not have a religious exception to European privacy rules, the EU’s top court has ruled.
The case started when the Finnish Data Protection Supervisor told the Finnish Jehovah’s Witnesses religious community to stop collecting personal details about their proselytising visits.
A Finnish court then asked the European Court of Justice, which is based in Kirchberg, if religious groups where subject to EU data protection laws.
On Tuesday, the ECJ said regular EU rules applied because “the preaching extends beyond the private sphere of a member of a religious community who is a preacher.”
In other words, the data concerns people who are not members of the church, so it is not considered “an expression of the faith of those preachers” and so the information needs be handled in the same way that any organisation would.