Personal interest, case I C 144/10

August 15th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

A Polish citizen filed a civil suit against Nasza Klasa company – the owner and operator of social networking website. He seek an apology and a payment for the infringement of his personal interest by the fact that Nasza Klasa refused to provide the plaintiff with personal data of the person who set up a fake profile, and allowed for the creation of such a profile, which was finally closed after several unsuccessful requests.

The Inspector General for Personal Data Protection in its decision of 5 March 2010 ordered Nasza Klasa to provide the plaintiff with information (full name, address, e-mail and IP address of a computer) of the person who set up the profile of the YYY number on website, ordering at the same time, to fulfill the obligation referred to in Article 33(1) of the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments.

Article 33
1. At the request of the data subject, within the period of 30 days, the controller shall be obliged to notify the data subject about his/her rights, and provide him/her with the information referred to in Article 32 paragraph 1 point 1-5a as regards his/her personal data, and in particular specify in an intelligible form:
1) the category of personal data contained in the file,
2) the means of data collection,
3) the purpose and the scope of data processing,
4) the recipients of the data and the scope of access they have been granted.

While executing this decision Nasza Klasa informed the plaintiff that the fictional profile was set up on behalf of a person of a first name “s d.”, the second name “w. I’m gay”, having e-mail address At the same time the company informed the plaintiff that it has no data with regard to IP addresses from which the profiles are set on its website, these data are not collected, and kept or archived. However, as it was also clear from the order of the District Court in Poznań of 16 June 2010 on an ongoing parallel criminal proceedings that Nasza Klasa provided the Police with the IP number, host and e-mail address of the person who has registered this fictitious profile containing personal information of the plaintiff.

The District Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 23 July 2010 case file I C 144/10 ruled that the way that Nasza Klasa has executed the decision bears hallmarks of malignancy, where the repetition of the contents of the fake profile certainly violated the plaintiff’s dignity. The Court noted also that the activity of Nasza Klasa which allows its users for the opening of online accounts, including fictitious accounts does not have the characteristics of illegality. Therefore, the plaintiff was not allowed to infer the responsibility of Nasza Klasa, because during the use of legal mechanisms, there was an infringement of his personal interests. In other words, the illegal nature has only the act of the direct infringer – an unknown person who registered fictional profile on website, that was containing personal information of the plaintiff, including his image, in the context of information insulting him.

The mere creation of a registration/login mechanism within defendant’ hosting services, without any specific negligence in the performance of duties imposed by law cannot justify the defendant’s liability for the infringement of personal rights of the plaintiff. According to the Court such reasoning would justify shifting the liability of the direct offender of personal right to the hosting service provider.

The Court held that Nasza Klasa committed a violation of personal rights by refusing to grant the plaintiff an access to personal data of the person who set up a fake profile infringing on his personal interest and being opprobrious to his identity, despite the fact that the plaintiff was entitled to obtain it, which was confirmed by final decision of the GIODO. The Court ruled that Nasza Klasa company as a professional hosting provider, which created and maintains a social networking website – in accordance with its TOS – should be aware of how the decision of Inspector General for Personal Data Protection should be executed. Moreover, Nasza-Klasa was aware of the circumstances of the plaintiff’s case, which lasted almost a year. At that time, the plaintiff has shown a determination to assert his rights, despite the fact that without a personal data of the offender, has repeatedly been put in a kind of a hopeless situation, not only by law enforcement, but also by Nasza-Klasa company. Since Nasza-Klasa did not have the name of the person who registered the fictitious profile with the data of the plaintiff, it shall inform the plaintiff and explain the problem and execute the decision of the GIODO with regard to available data (IP, e-mail address of the perpetrator). Nasza Klasa decided to file an appeal complaint. The Appelatte Court in Wrocław in its judgment of 18 Nobember 2010 case file I ACa 1129/10 reversed the previous judgment and dismissed the suit.