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Parliamentary questions
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11 March 2020
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 138
Michal Šimečka, Abir Al-Sahlani, Anna Júlia Donáth, Ramona Strugariu, Moritz Körner, Sophia in 't Veld
 Subject: Abuse of power by Slovak data protection authority and threat to investigative journalism

In December 2019, the Slovak data protection authority ('Úrad na ochranu osobných údajov’) addressed a letter to the Czech Centre for Investigative Journalism in which it threatened to impose a fine of up to EUR 10 million if they did not disclose their sources and provide all information about a video released on their website ‘investigace.cz’.

The video showed Marián Kočner, an oligarch suspected of the murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová, and Dobroslav Trnka, a former general prosecutor, install a hidden camera in Trnka’s office. It was later revealed that the director of the data protection authority, Soňa Pőtheová, was in regular contact with Marián Kočner. (1)

1. In light of the extensive powers conferred on national data protection authorities under EU law, notably the General Data Protection Regulation, does the Commission consider that the existing safeguards are sufficient to prevent and prosecute cases of abuse of power?

2. What measures is the Commission going to take to ensure that the national implementation of EU data protection law in no way endangers the work of investigative journalists whose findings play a critical role in fighting corruption and enhancing government accountability and transparency?

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