Surveyor General of Poland obliged to stop publishing the land register number on GEOPORTAL2
The President of the UODO on the basis of the Art. 70 para. 1 and 2 of the Act of 10 May 2018 on the Protection of Personal Data obliged the Surveyor General of Poland to limit the processing of personal data regarding land register numbers, ordering to stop their publication on the GEOPORTAL2 website (geoportal.gov.pl) until the issuing of the administrative decision which will conclude the proceedings in this case. The basis for issuing the decision is the plausible demonstration of infringement of the data protection provisions and the threat of causing serious and hard-to-remove consequences.
This decision was issued on April 6, 2020 as part of the conducted ex officio proceedings against the Surveyor General of Poland regarding breach of personal data protection provisions in connection with publishing land register numbers on the GEOPORTAL2 website (geoportal.gov.pl) without a legal basis. On March 27, 2020, the President of the UODO initiated two ex officio administrative proceedings: one regarding violation of the provisions on the protection of personal data in connection with the processing of personal data without a legal basis, the other concerning the imposition of an administrative fine on the Surveyor General od Poland for the failure to cooperate with the President of the UODO with regard to the exercise of its inspection powers.
At the beginning of March, the supervisory authority decided that it was necessary to perform an inspection at the Surveyor General of Poland, of which the SA informed it by a letter indicating the scope of the inspection and the date of conducting it. The Surveyor General of Poland refused to consent to conducting inspection activities, which prevented the inspectors from checking the compliance with the provisions on the protection of personal data. Therefore, in addition to initiating administrative proceedings, the President of the UODO submitted a notification to the Warsaw-Śródmieście District Prosecutor's Office of a justified suspicion of committing an offense specified in Art. 108 section 1 of the Act of 10 May 2018 on the Protection of Personal Data. Pursuant to this provision, any person who prevents or hinders the inspector from checking the compliance with the personal data protection provisions shall be subject to a fine, restriction of personal liberty or imprisonment for up to two years.
It should be noted that name and surname, the personal identification number (PESEL), information on financial liabilities, rights and ways to obtain a legal title to the property - are only some data about the owner of the property which are available in the land register. With this number you can have access to the data it contains, which can lead to threats for many people, such as re-use of data inconsistent with the original purposes of processing or unauthorized profiling of property owners. Meanwhile, none of the applicable legal provisions, including provisions regulating issues related to the activities of the Surveyor General of Poland, entitles this authority to publish data on the land register numbers on the GEOPORTAL2 website.
In accordance with applicable law, personal data is not only information that directly identifies a natural person, but also information that allows this person to be indirectly identified. Therefore, personal data also include the number of the land register, because thanks to it you can get a lot of information about the owner of a specific property.
It is worth adding that the President of the UODO, and previously the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection, repeatedly addressed the competent authorities with requests for legislative initiative or for issuing or amending legal acts in matters concerning the disclosure of personal data in the form of land register numbers by the competent authorities.