A Polish lawyer who felt insulted by the comments that appeared on znanyprawnik.eu website, sued its owner. The case went through all instances. The Polish Supreme Court in its judgment of 18 January 2013 case file IV CSK 270/12 dismissed the cassation complaint filed by the offended lawyer. The Court held that all comments were not about facts that could be verified, only described the experience of cooperation with a lawyer and did not contain offensive or vulgar expressions. The plaintiff is an attorney, a public person performing certain services in the field of law and his services should be subject to assessment, which is not always favorable. Due to the nature of the activities carried out by the plaintiff, the limits of acceptable criticism are wider, because the person undertaking public activities does it voluntary, yet inevitable, undergo evaluation and public reaction.
Archive for: e-law issues
A Polish citizen wanted to know if the Mayor of Tłuszcz town and municipality has issued any official documents that would define and regulate actions of the municipality on Facebook. He decided to post a request to disclose such information using the official Facebook’s page of Tłuszcz’s municipality. After two weeks of inactivity, he filed a complaint against the mayor.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its decision of 15 March 2013 case file II SAB/Wa 513/12 dismissed the complaint and ruled that a post on Facebook is not a proper request for disclosure of public information.
The “Nigdy Więcej” (Never Again) Association and the “Zielone Światło” (Green Light) Foundation organized a social action entitled “Nazism never again on Allegro”. It was a protest against a Polish auction website Allegro.pl which allowed to buy and sell different Nazi gadgets and memorabilia. The Foundation together with a writer, artist and social activist Jerzy Masłowski prepared an illustration with Allegro.pl logotype in which in which two L letters were changed and shaped as the SS symbol. This illustration was used on postcards that were handed out to different people during the street-action that happened near Metro Świętokrzyska in Warsaw on 21 March 2010.
On 20 April 2010, the Foundation received a cease and desist letter from QXL Poland – the owner of Allegro. The Company requested the removal from all public places of all publications, photographs, posters and billboards, and other materials that included the altered trade mark. QXL demanded destruction of all the above mentioned materials and asked the Foundation to publish an apology on its website, as well as in the pages of Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. The Foundation refused to comply.
QXL Poland sued the “Zielone Światło” foundation and Jerzy Masłowski for the infringement of personal rights. During the trial, the Foundation argued that it has conducted correspondence with Allego with regard to products with fascist symbols or products referring to fascist ideology, that were offered at different auctions. However, it has not brought the intended effect, because Allegro.pl did not remove these items from its website. For this reason, the Foundation organized the street action. The Foundation argued that from 8 June 2010, the provisions of Article 256 of the Criminal Code were amended.
§ 1. Whoever publicly promotes a fascist or other totalitarian system of state or incites hatred based on national, ethnic, race or religious differences or for reason of lack of any religious denomination
shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.
§ 22 The same punishment shall be imposed on anyone, who for the purpose of dissemination, produces, records or import, acquire, stores, possess, presents, transports or transfers a print, record or other item of the content specified in § 1 or being a carrier of the fascist, communist or other totalitarian symbolism..
§ 3 A crime is not committed by a perpetrator of a forbidden act specified in § 2, if he or she commits the said act in the course of artistic, educational, collectible or scientific activity.
The Foundation concluded that its action was a response to long-term omission of Allegro. The action was organized to draw the attention of relevant authorities and the public at auctions that poses a danger to others. It sought to protect an important public interest, and therefore was not unlawful. In addition, the Foundation argued that according to the legal doctrine the criticism aimed at improving the reality is not illegal, even if it is excessively expressive in description and in negative assessment, as well as it’s impolite way of expression and presentation of arguments, if it is justified by the importance of issues raised and the literary form that was used. Moreover, the scope of permissible criticism depends on the weight of social affairs, and in case of doubt, freedom of expression takes precedence, and in some cases even offensive criticism is acceptable. If the case requires so, the criticism might be very offensive, and it may even seek to destroy the enemy, for example, in the dispute against pedophilia or against the view that is glorifying Stalin. The Foundation argued also that a request for legal protection raised by Allegro cannot ban the Foundation and other individuals from expressing their critical opinions of the plaintiff’s conduct. Such behavior constitutes an abuse of the subjective right as decided by the Appeallate Court in Lódź in its judgment of 25 May 2006 case file I ACa 15/06, published in electronic database LEX, under the no. 512493.
On 9 November 20011, a lawyer representing the Foundation presented a legal opinion issued by Prof. Wojciech Sadurski. Prof. Sadurski wrote that there was no violation of personal interests. In the opinion of the author, the case brought by QXL Poland illustrates the conflict between two types of claims related to absolute rights protected by the law. The claims relating to freedom of expression, and intellectual property claims relating to the protection of trade marks owned by QXL Poland. Citing the case law of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, prof. Sadurski argued that freedom of speech is superior to other constitutional rights and freedoms. He noted that limiting the right to freedom of expression by issuing a ban on speech, would violate the essence of the constitutional right to freedom of speech. Prof. Sadurski cited Smith v Wal-Mart Stores, 537 F.Supp.2d 1302 (ND GA 2008), however he pointed out that the Foundation does not conduct any commercial activity, and the risk of consumers’ confusions is clearly excluded. Please bear in mind that such opinions are treated by the Courts as private documents, not as the expert witness evidence/testimony. The case is pending and the next hearing is scheduled on 6 February 2012.
QXL Poland filed also a request for preliminary injunction. The District Court in Warsaw in its order of 20 January 2011 case file XXIV C 1035/10 dismissed it during a closed-door court session (in camera). However, the Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its decision of 5 May 2011 case file I ACz 671/11 decided to secure the claim of QXL. The Court prohibited the Foundation and Jerzy Masłowski from transmitting and disseminating on their websites of any publications or materials containing the questioned trade mark.
The District Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 13 March 2013 case file XXIV C 1035/10 ruled that the “Zielone Światło” (Green Light) Foundation infringed personal rights of Allegro, such as reputation and fame. The Court decided that the demonstrations against the sale of Nazi memorabilia and interference with the logo of the portal were too excessive and bore the risk of linking the portal with Nazi organizations. The judgment is not final.
The Head of District Labour Office called an unemployed person to appear before the Office in order to confirm readiness for employment. The Head director informed that the absence will result in the deprivation status of the unemployed. The unemployed person informed the Office that he was not able to appear, becasue of the unexpected surgery. He also requested the Office to appoint a new date to appear, and for delivery of correspondence by e-mail. The Office sent another call by mail. The unemployed did not appear before the Office, and by the decision of the Foreman, he lost unemployment status and privileges. He decided to file a complaint against this decision.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Gorzów Wielkopolski in its judgment of 28 February 2013 case file II SA/Go 43/13 annulled the contested decision, ruled it unenforceable. The Court ruled that according to the provisions of Article 391 of the Administrative Proceedings Code – APC – (in Polish: Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego) of 14 June 1960, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 30, item 168, consolidated text of 9 October 2000, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 98, item 1071 with subsequent amendments, the delivery should be be made by means of electronic communication if a party or other participant to the administrative proceedings applied to the public administration authority for the service, or consented to having the service effected by such means.
The Regional Court in Dzierżoniów in its judgment of 9 January 2013 case file II W 572/12 sentenced a Polish citizen for the fine in a sum of 300 Polish złoty for sending unsolicited e-mail to two persons. This case was based on the indictment afforded for in the Article 24 of the Polish Act of 18 July 2002 on Providing Services by Electronic Means – PSEM – (in Polish: ustwa o świadczeniu usług droga elektroniczną), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 144, item. 1204 with subsequent amendments.. Anyone, who transmits by electronic communications means unsolicited commercial information, should be liable to fine. The prosecution of this offence is conducted on the request of the harmed party. Recent amendments to the Polish Telecommunication law introduced also new anti-spam provisions to the PSEM. As of 22 January 2013, sending unsolicited commercial information addressed to the specified recipient, who is a natural person, by electronic communications means, in particular electronic mail is prohibited. These amendments made the ban on sending unsolicited commercial information on whether the spam recipient is a natural person. Previous provisions of the PSEM did not provide such prerequisite.
Polish citizen demanded the publication of his complaint against the cancellation of the proceedings of his action that was filed before the Constitutional Tribunal, on Tribunal’s website. He argued that this is public information and should be widely available. The Tribunal refused. Therefore, he decided to submit a complaint for failure to act to the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw. Legal counsel representing the Tribunal argued at the hearing that there is no legal basis for publication of such complaint on the Internet, and explained that the complaint has been filed after a final decision to discontinue the proceedings and, therefore, should not at all be processed by.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 18 December 2012 case file II SAB/Wa 335/12 dismissed the complaint. The Court ruled that public authorities are required to publish information if they are obliged to do so by law. The Court pointed out that there is a failure to act if the authority refuses to disclose information, which is required to make available. According to the Court, the complaint is not such information. In addition, according to the decree of the President of the Constitutional Tribunal on the disclosure of pleadings at www.trybunal.gov.pl website, under the link “cases”, the following materials are available: i) the decision for posting complaints, but it does not apply at the initial stage of deciding on the admission of a complaint or request, ii) an electronic copy of the complaint (with supplementary documents), without attachments after referring the constitutional complaint (application) by the Court to decide on the mertis.
In another case of Tomasz Zieliński, the author of transportoid.com service and software available for Android and Windows Phone that provides timetables of public municipal transport systems, the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Kraków in its judgment of 26 November 2012 case file II SAB/KR 152/12 ruled that source code that was used to create a website with public communication timetables is not deemed as public information.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 24 October 2012 case file II SAB/Wa 245/12 ruled that official topographic maps that were created and are kept in the databases by the Head Office of Geodesy and Cartography (GUGiK) are public information and must be made available on the request of the creator of dobraulica.pl website.
Tomasz Zieliński, the author of transportoid.com service and software available for Android and Windows Phone that provides timetables of public municipal transport systems, requested Miejskiego Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne (Municipal Transport Company) in Kraków to disclose public information in the form of electronic database of timetables. MTP refused and argued that the request goes beyond the the Act on Access to Public Information, apart from, the requested information is available on the website. Mr Zieliński filed a complaint on failure to act.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Kraków in its judgment of 18 September 2012 case file II SAB/Kr 105/12 agreed with Mr Zieliński and ordered MTP to take appropriate actions that were indicated in the request.
The Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups (SLLGO) requested the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to disclose documents and the correspondence, including e-mails, that concerned recent legislative works on the amendments to the Polish Act on Access to Public Information. The Prime Minister disclosed part of the requested materials, but without indicated e-mails. The representative of the Prime Minister argued that e-mails are used to send text messages, they are used as internal correspondence in the office, as well as with external entities. E-mails consists of various documents of varying importance, significance and category (from the private and business). However, it is not a system of receiving and processing of official documents and the exchange of official correspondence, including these on the legislative process. The system serves for communications between certain individuals, rather than for the presentation of the official positions of the administration. The SLLGO filed a complaint and argued that the Prime Minister failed to act in order to disclose the requested information.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 1 December 2012 case file II SAB/Wa 295/11 agreed with the SLLGO. The Court ruled that requested e-mails are not private, and they are used to exchange opinions, positions and evaluations between persons exercising public functions. There was no doubt that such electronic means were used for the evaluation and position with respect to the specific provisions of the Act amending the Act on Access to Public Information and other laws. The Court did not agree with the Prime Minister that such exchange of information was intended for internal use and it has working and preparatory nature. The Prime Minister filed a cassation complaint.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 14 September 2012 case file I OSK 1203/12 annulled the contested judgment. The Court agreed with the PM and decided that e-mails are internal documents. This issue has been resolved in the same way by the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 21 June 2012 case file I OSK 666/12. See “E-access to public information, case I OSK 666/12“.
A person, who was working in a call center of one of the Polish telecommunication company, has used social service offered by that company and sent to subscribers of the telecommunications company a text message in which he made derogatory statements regarding another person. This person felt insulted and brought private charges based on the provisions of Article 212 § 2 of the Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with subsequent amendments.
The Regional Court for Warszawa City IV Criminal Division in its judgment of 5 July 2012 case file IV K 875/07 sentenced the accused person to a fine. The Court held that the sent message humiliated this person in public and exposed to the loss of trust necessary for the conduct of his business. The case was heard on 33 (hearings.
Robert Frycz created a website that was available under anytkomor.pl domain. The domain name and the content referred to the activities of the Polish president Bronisław Komorowski. It hosted a game entitled “Komor Killer” in which the player was able to throw feces in the animated figure of the President Komorowski.
The Prosecutor Office from Tomaszów Mazowiecki pressed charges against Mr Frycz based on the provisions of Article 135 § 2 of the Polish Criminal Code – CRC – (in Polish: Kodeks Karny) of 6 June 1997, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 88, item 553, with subsequent amendments.
Article 135. § 1. Whoever commits an active assault on the President of the Republic of Poland
shall be subject to the penalty of the deprivation of liberty for a term of between 3 months and 5 years.
§ 2. Whoever insults the President of the Republic of Poland in public
shall be subject to the penalty of the deprivation of liberty for up to 3 years.
The judge decided to conceal the hearing due to breach of good manners and important private interests of the Polish President. The District Court in Piotrków Trybunalski in its judgment of 14 September 2012 case file III K 56/12 found Mr Frycz guilty and sentenced him for the penalty of one year and three months of of the restriction of liberty with the obligation to perform 40 hours of community service per month.
Daniel Macyszyn, acting as the President of the ePaństwo Foundation, asked the First President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland to disclose information why and on what legal basis, the Supreme Court in its decision No. BSA III – 055-90/11 posted references to the LEX software that is published by Wolters Kluwer, in situation when information available under these references is available for free and in public repositories that are published by the Supreme Administrative Court, and there are also other commercial legal information systems available on the Polish market. The Foundation wanted to know, whether the Supreme Court has the license for the use of LEX software. If the answer was positive, the Foundation inquired when, and in what procedure, and for what price and how many licences were purchased, and what were the criteria for selecting this software. Mr Macyszyn also aksed why the Supreme Court uses this software and not the public and free resources such as repositories of decisions of administrative courts, provided by the Supreme Administrative Court and the gazettes published by the Government Legislative Centre. The last question was whether the Supreme Court cooperates with the Wolters Kluwer on matters other than purchasing a license by the Supreme Court to the LEX. The First President refused to initiate proceedings with regard to disclosure of the requested information and noted that civil law contracts between public authorities with third parties operating in the sphere of private law, do not belong to the category of public information, consequently, they cannot be disclosed to anybody. Such contracts do not in fact belong to the category of “public information” within the meaning of Article 6(1) pt. 4 of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments.
Article 6. 1. The following information is subject to being made available, in particular on:
1) internal and foreign policy, including:
a) intentions of legislative and executive authorities,
b) drafts on normative acts,
c) programmes on realisation of public tasks, method of their realisation, performance and consequences of the realisation of these tasks,
2) entities, defined in Article 4, it. 1, including:
a) legal status or legal form,
c) subject of activity and competencies,
d) bodies and persons performing functions therein and competencies,
e) property structure of entities, defined in Article 4, it. 1, points 3-5,
f) property they dispose of,
3) principles of functioning of entities, defined in Article 4, it. 1, including:
a) mode of conduct of public authorities and their organisational units,
b) mode of conduct of state legal persons and legal persons of local authorities in the area of performing public tasks and their activity within the frames of budget and non-budget economy,
c) methods of passing private-public acts,
d) methods of accepting and settling matters,
e) state of accepted cases, order of their settling or resolving,
f) conducted registers, books and archives and on methods and principles of making data there contained available,
4) public data, including:
a) contents and form of official documents, in particular:
- contents of administrative acts and other resolutions,
- documentation on the control and its effects as well as presentations, opinions, conclusions and statements of the entities having conducted the control,
b) opinion on public issues made by the bodies of public authority and by the public officers in the understanding of the provisions of the Penal Code,
c) contents of other presentations and assessments made by the bodies of public authority,
d) information on the condition of the state, local authorities and their organisational units,
5) public property, including:
a) property of the State Treasury and state legal persons,
b) other property rights to which the state and its debts are entitled to,
c) property of the units of local authority and professional and economic local authorities as well as property of legal persons of local authorities and the ill persons’ offices,
d) property of the entities, defined in Article 4, it. 1, point 5, coming from disposing of the property, defined in c. a) – c) as well as the profits from this property and its encumbrances,
e) incomes and losses of the commercial companies in which the entities, defined in c. a) – c) hold the dominant position in the understanding of the provisions of the Commercial Companies Code and disposal of this income and the method of covering losses,
f) public debt,
g) public assistance,
h) public burden.
2. The official document in the understanding of this Act is the text of declaration of will or knowledge, preserved and signed in any form by the public officer in the understanding of the provisions of the Penal Code within the frames of its competencies, directed to another entity or filed to the acts.
The Foundation requested for the re-hearing and the First President again refused. Daniel Macyszyn filed a complaint against these two refusal orders.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 10 January 2012 case file II SA/Wa 2257/11 repealed both orders of the First President and ruled them unenforceable. The First President filed a cassation complaint.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 11 September 2012 case file I OSK 903/12 dismissed it and held that any agreement between the public authorities and other entities, is deemed as public information. The Supreme Administrative Court pointed out that in matters of access to public information, the public authority cannot refuse to initiate proceedings. It have to either disclose public information, or if there are situations provided in Article 5 of the API, refuse to disclose such information, but in the form of a decision. But even while considering by the authority, whether the requested information is public information, or in case that would lead to the answer that the information is not public information, or that the authority simply does not have it, the proceedings were already initiated, therefore it cannot refuse to initiate it.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 11 September 2012 case file I OSK 916/12 dismissed another cassation complaint filed by the First President against the judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw of 10 January 2012 case file II SA/Wa 2259/11 that repealed orders of the First President of the Supreme Court in which it refused to initiate proceedings to disclose information on the content of the contracts, which the Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland, the authorities or persons acting under the authority of the government, concluded with the company Wolters Kluwer, with regard to series of books published by Wolters Kluwer such as “Studies and analysis of the Supreme Court” and “Bulletin of the Supreme Court – Labour and Social Security and Public Affairs Chamber”, and the disclosure
of the contents of the contracts, which the Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland, the authorities or any person acting from on behalf of the authorities, have concluded with the publishing house LexisNexis Publishing sp. z o.o,, with regard to a series of publications such as “The case law of the Supreme Court – Civil Chamber (OSNC)”, “The case law of the Supreme Court – Labour, Social Security and Public Affairs Chamber (OSNP)”, and disclosure of the contents of the contracts, which the Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland, the authorities or persons acting under the authority of the government, concluded with the Editorial Board of the “Palestra” with regard to a series of publications entitled “The case law of the Supreme Court – Criminal Chamber and the Military Chamber (OSNKW)”. The Foundation requested also the disclosure of information on what procedure governed the purchase of the above mentioned periodicals by the Supreme Court, in what amounts and for what price.
Apple, Inc. filed the request for invalidation of the right of protection for the word-figurative trade mark A.PL registered for goods and services in Class 9, 35 and 42 and owned by the Polish company Internet S.A. from Warszawa. The Polish company also provides an online grocery store under the domain name a.pl. The main arguments presented by the U.S. company were based on confusing similarity between the sign A.PL and national and Community trade marks that are owned by Apple. Arguments based on the unfair use of the reputation were also raised.
The Adjudicative Board held the first hearing on 29 august 2012 case no. Sp. 202/12. However, due to the large volume of evidence supplied by Apple, the hearing was adjourned.
A person who used a nickname “Leon z gazowni” wrote derogatory comments on Internet forum regarding the death of Polish soldiers in Afghanistan. Jacek Żebryk, a Polish soldier who served in Afghanistan, and whose friend died on the mission, informed the Prosecutor Office in Białogard about the possibility of committing a crime. The Prosecutor located the computer of Jerzy W. and charged him based on the provisions of Article 52a of the Polish Code of Offences – PCO – (in Polish: Kodeks wykroczeń) of 20 May 1971, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 1971, No 12, item 114, with subsequent amendments.
1) publicly incites to commit a crime or tax offense,
2) publicly incites to violent action in order to prevent an act that constitutes source of universally binding law of the Republic of Poland,
3) publicly applauds a crime,
if coverage of the act or its effects were not significant – shall be liable to arrest, restriction of liberty or a fine.
The Regional Court in Środa Wielkopolska in its judgment case file II W 363/12 found the person guilty and fined him 100 PLN. The case was decided in the prescriptive procedure in criminal proceedings. Jerzy W. failed to appear at the hearing. He also did not file an appeal, so the judgment became final after 7 days.
The Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO) in its decision of 24 September 2010, no. DIS/DEC-1134/38146/10 ordered the Polish company Info Veriti Polska Sp. z o.o. Obsługa Serwisu Internetowego Sp.J., the publisher of online database of Polish entrepreneurs, to inform the individuals whose data that were publicly available in sources such as Court’s Monitor and Economic Monitor and which have been collected and preserved by the Company, according to the information requirement referred to in Article 25(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, within 3 months from the date on which this decision becomes final.
1. In case where the data have not been obtained from the data subject, the controller is obliged to provide the data subject, immediately after the recording of his/her personal data, with the following information:
1) the address of its seat and its full name, and in case the controller is a natural person about the address of his/her residence and his/her full name,
2) the purpose and the scope of data collection, and in particular, about the data recipients or categories of recipients,
3) the source of data,
4) the existence of the data subject’s right of access to his/her data and the right to rectify these data,
5) the powers resulting from Article 32 paragraph 1 point 7 and 8.
Furthermore, the GIODO ordered the Company to register the collection of personal data of customers (owners of e-mail addresses) within 30 days from the date on which the decision becomes final, to allow users of infoveriti.pl website to freely consent to the processing of their personal data for marketing purposes within 30 days from the date on which this decision becomes final, to create documentation establishing security policy and the intruction for management of IT system that used to process personal data, within 30 days from the date on which this decision becomes final, to grant the authorization to the processing of personal data to persons who are allowed to process personal data within 14 days from the date on which this decision becomes final, and to create a record of persons authorized to process personal data within 14 days from the date on which this decision becomes final. Info Veriti argued that the provisions of Article 25(1) of the PPO should not apply in its case because the provision of other law provides and allows for personal data collection without the need to notify the data subject. Such allowance happens in the case of laws that introduced a formal disclosure of public registers, that include records containing personal information. The formal disclosure of a registry means the right of everyone to access data in the register, without the need to show the legal or factual interest. Due to the widespread legitimacy in terms of access to recorded data, a person obtaining information from the register is not in any way identified during data acquisition. The Laws relating to public records and registers, also do not require explicit registration of the collected data, and there is no knowledge of the registration body of when and to whom the data were disclosed. Moreover, some registration authorities, on the basis of generally formulated principles of transparency, put the data from public records for public networks such as the Internet, which makes impossible to control access of who accessed such register. The GIODO noted that the PPD does not prohibit the creation of separate collections based on data from sources generally available, however, it does not mean that such collections are not subject to the provisions of the PPD. The Company receives data from the National Court Register in order to create a separate database, which uses for its own commercial purposes. In this way, Info Veriti Polska becomes the administrator of the collected data, therefore, as the controller, it is obliged to information requirements. The right of individuals to keep information regarding their situation and status in private, is constitutionally guaranteed, and may be restricted exclusively by laws that have the statutory rank (only Acts). The Act on the National Court Register (KRS) is just such an act. In this case, the record of a natural person entered to the KRS is publicly available, because such Register was created to ensure the transparency of the economic market in Poland. The persons referred to in the Act on the National Court Register, are therefore required to provide their data for inclusion in the register and they must also reckon with the disclosure. This does not mean, however, that they must agree to the use of their data for purposes other than the generally speaking, transparency of economic activity. However, the data controller that processes personal data should provide due care in order to protect the interests of the persons whose data were collected and in particular to ensure that the data were collected for specified and legitimate purposes and are not further processed in a way incompatible with those purposes. The GIODO also noted that the list of situations that allow for waive the requirement to provide information, referred to in 25(1) of the PPD has changed as a result of amendments to the Act that were made in 2004. The provision of Article 25(2) pt 2 that allowed to waive the abovementioned obligation in a situation where the data provided for collection are generally available, was repealed. For these reasons, it was obvious that the intention of the legislature was to require data controllers who collect data “generally available” to completing the duties arising out of the provision of Article 25(1) of the PPD.
The company filed a complaint to the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw against the decisions issued by the GIODO. Info Veriti requested the Court to decide on the invalidity, or their repeal, in addition, the Company has applied for stay of the execution of the contested decisions and the order to return the costs of proceedings. Infor Veirit claimed that the processed data is very limited, restricted to surname, the national identification number (PESEL), date of birth and functions performed in the entities disclosed in the KRS. Therefore, it is impossible to provide information to persons whose data are processed, because some of them have historical character. These are people who in the past served specific functions. The data administrator is not able to provide such individuals with the required information. The data controller does not process data allowing for direct contact with a person (e.g. home address), and sending information to the address of the entity (e.g. companies created according to the provisions of the Polish Code of Commercial Companies), which in the past served a given function, can not be considered for the execution of the decision. In order to comply with the decision, Info Veriti would need to gather additional categories of data to make contact and send the required information. However, such an obligation should clearly expressed in the decision, which has not happened. The Company has no legal basis for the acquisition of new categories of personal data. The deadline of three months that was ordered by the GIODO is unrealistic in order to collect the required contact data in relation to all of the data are included in the database. The Company noted that its database contains all the data entered in the National Court Register. The purpose of data entered in the National Court Register is closely related to business transactions, and the widespread availability of the registry should not be regarded as interference in the private sphere of the individual whose data is disclosed in the registry. There isn’t therefore a need to notify such persons regarding the process of collecting their personal data, as instruments of public-law on protection of personal data are treated as protection of the right to privacy. The person who serves or served in the bodies of commercial companies must accept that the data will be in an open public record to which access will have anyone interested in business. The purpose of transparency and certainty of economic activity, according to the legislator, prevails over the protection of the name, surname, date of birth and the PESEL number of the persons who performed specific functions in the bodies that were entered into the KRS. Info Veriti also disagreed with the opinion of the GIODO, which opposes the existence and goals of the KRS and data collection of the Company, the latter being also created in order to provide the transparency of economic activity. Services provided by the Company are based on data from public records and explicitly relate to economic activity of specific individuals. Such commercial processing of data previously collected by public entities is allowed by EU law, such as Directive 2003/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the re-use of public sector information. Information on such entities contributes to the establishment of the internal market and creates a system ensuring undisturbed competition in that market. It is also emphasized that public sector information is an important starting material for products and services related to digital content, and more opportunities to re-use this information should allow European companies to use their potential and contribute to economic growth and job creation. As “information services” of Info Veriti are based on data obtained from public records, they fit into the goals provided in the recitals of the Directive 2003/98/EC. According to Infor Veirit, the consequences of the position taken in the decisions of the GIODO, which implies obligation to provide information to any person that collects data from the National Court Register, if there are situations referred to in Article 2 (1-2) of the PPD, are also unacceptable.
1. The Act shall determine the principles of personal data processing and the rights of natural persons whose personal data is or can be processed as a part of a data filing system.
2. The Act shall apply to the processing of personal data in:
1) files, indexes, books, lists and other registers,
2) computer systems, also in case where data are processed outside from a data filing system.
Such requirement would have to be commonly executed in the course of trade in relation to a number of activities related to the acquisition of data from the National Court Register. Given the widespread use of copies of the KRS, that are used for instance to identify the persons authorized to represent the company at the conclusion of the contract, such an interpretation would lead to economic paralysis, and certainly also to the irrational (excessive) financial costs, in the name of privacy protection, which in the present case does not occur.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 2 June 2011 case file II SA/Wa 720/11 dismissed the complaint. The Court held that the Polish legislator afforded the citizen’s right to privacy in Articles 47, 49 and 51 of the Constitution. This also includes the protection of personal data and privacy against excessive interference by others. The provision of Article 47 of the Constitution sets out the principle of the protection of private life, Article 49 provides for the protection of the correspondence, while the provision of Article 51 states that no one shall be obliged, except under the Act to disclose information concerning his person, a public authority may not acquire, collect and share information on citizens other than those necessary in a democratic state ruled by law, everyone has the right of access to official documents and it datasets. Limitation of this right may be established by statute (act), and to anyone has the right to request the correction or deletion of information incorrect, incomplete, or collected in a manner inconsistent with the Act. These regulations are expanded in 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, which in turn refers to the solutions contained in Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data. These instruments created a basic framework for data protection in the Republic of Poland. The PPD created statutory principle of the protection of personal data. In accordance with Article 1 of the PPD, any person has a right to have his/her personal data protected. The processing of personal data can be carried out in the public interest, the interest of the data subject, or the interest of any third party, within the scope and subject to the procedure provided for by the Act. The protection of personal data is a fundamental right of citizens in a democratic state of law. Protection of personal data is closely connected with the protection of private life and, therefore, it determines the freedom of the citizen. The right to protection of personal data, however, is not absolute and it is limited in the interests of the public or justified interests of others. However, since it is a citizen’s right, that determines a person’s sense of freedom, the exceptions allowing for the collection and use of personal data should be subject to strict interpretation. The legislature guided by the values of protection of constitutional rights cannot allow for a situation in which the law by the wider interpretation of the provisions relating to the processing of personal data, is violated. The provisions of the Act on the National Court Register lay down the rules of registration and the rules of disclosure of data. Such data are available electronically by the Central Information of the KRS or by viewing the register files in the appropriate departments of the Polish courts. These data are made available to any interested person, for the purposes of certainty of economic activity. The persons who undertakes an activity that is to be entered into the KRS, knows that the data is maintained by the State in the registry and data will be used only on the basis of the provisions relating to the functioning of the registry. Meanwhile, Info Veriti collects personal data and information disclosed in the register, such as surname, the PESEL number into its own database, in which data are processed. Data and information from the KRS are not intended for this purpose, and the people who share their personal information do not accept the fact that their personal data had been placed in another private database. When entrepreneurs decide to place their data into the KRS, they also have confidence that such data will be disclosed and used only in a manner permitted by the Act on the National Court Register. The legislature cannot allow for the situation that the protection of personal data contained in the KRS will not be limited to entities that wish to use the data for other purposes, and in a different way than permitted by the Act on the National Court Register. At this time, it would lead to a situation in which data from KRS could be used in an unrestricted way, against the will of the people entered into the register, for instance, in order to create a database for the marketing campaign. The court did not agree with the argument that the contested decision is contrary to the provisions of Directive 2003/98/EC. According to the court, the Directive does not apply directly to the Polish law, as EU directives are implemented into the law of a Member State and only then enter into force in the legal system. This Directive is not implemented to the Polish law, and Poland still works on the implementation. The court held that the contested decision is enforceable. Info Veriti builds its own database and has data that allow the Company to perform the information requirement to those who are in the database. It is possible because there are surnames and PESEL numbers of individuals, and businesses headquarters, where they perform given functions. Moreover, Info Veriti may use the services of the Central Bureau of Domiciliary. The fact that it is a big organizational task and it involves a large number of people does not mean that it is not feasible. By building a large database the Company had to be aware that in relation to the number of people it will have specific obligations according to the provisions of the PPD. Info Veriti filed a requested to stay the execution of the decisions.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 30 September 2011 case file I OSK 1827/11 decided to stay the execution of both decisions.
A taxpayer who sold the old porcelain and books which were inherited from grandparents and parents, and bought on the antique fairs, was ordered by the Polish tax authorities to pay VAT for four years. Every year the taxpayer sold hundreds of these things, for more than three thousand PLN. Only 3089 PLN is the amount of income received during the year that is deemed as free of tax,. According to tax authorities this activity could not be regarded as a hobby, but as a professional activity, that should be taxed.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 9 August 2012 case file I FSK 1644/11 dismissed the complaint of the taxpayer.
The Polish Court of Competition and Consumer Protection in its judgment of 31 May 2012 case file XVII Amc 5817/11 held that an entrepreneur cannot include in its terms of telecommunication services any regulations and provisions which would release it from the liability for any loss due to lack of customer access to the service provided. Activities that intend to misinformation, confusion, misconception or are directed to exploit ignorance or naivety of the customers and consumers, are contrary to good customs.
Eryk Schuman wrote an article regarding Klaudiusz Sevkovic who is an alderman of Chorzów city and also the president of the local handball club. This critical piece appeared at dlachorzowa.pl website. According Mr Schuman, the data given in the declaration of interests of the alderman, could indicate that Mr Sevkovic uses the communal property in his private economic activities. Sevkovic filed a suit for the protection of his personal interests. He argued that the article overstated the amount of cash taken from the club. Mr Schuman wrote that the alderman took 275 thousand PLN (Schuman used the abbreviation “tys.” which stands for thousand in Polish) for a contract work. The journalist referred to a statement of financial interests filed by Sevkovic. However, the amount disclosed in the statement was 275 PLN not 275 tys. PLN. Schuman argued that it was an unintentional mistake in the text, and it was corrected immediately after he noticed it. He noted that the goal of the article was to draw attention to irregularities of the activities of alderman. Meanwhile, Sevkovic argued that such false information was visible on at least for two weeks and it was removed only after sending a letter to the editor to request a correction, and to publish an apology, which, however, never appeared on the website.
The District Court in Katowice in its judgment of 6 August 2012 case file I C 116/12 ruled that Eryk Schuman infringed Mr Sevkovic’s personal interest. The Court noted that the article served to undermine the credibility and good name of Sevkovic in the public opinion. The Court did not consider the text in question as a “typographical error”.
The Court of Justice of the EU in its judgment of 12 July 2012 in Case C‑138/11 ruled that the activity of a public authority consisting in the storing, in a database, of data which undertakings are obliged to report on the basis of statutory obligations, in permitting interested persons to search for that data and/or in providing them with print-outs thereof does not constitute an economic activity, and that public authority is not, therefore, to be regarded, in the course of that activity, as an undertaking, within the meaning of Article 102 TFEU. The fact that those searches and/or that provision of print-outs are carried out in consideration for remuneration provided for by law and not determined, directly or indirectly, by the entity concerned, is not such as to alter the legal classification of that activity. In addition, when such a public authority prohibits any other use of the data thus collected and made available to the public, by relying upon the sui generis protection granted to it as maker of the database pursuant to Article 7 of Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases, or upon any other intellectual property right, it also does not exercise an economic activity and is not therefore to be regarded, in the course of that activity, as an undertaking, within the meaning of Article 102 TFEU.
A Polish citizen requested a Mayor of the Community to disclose copy of the existing office instructions which are in force in the community. Mayor replied that information covered by the request is available on the Community website. The applicant filed a complaint on the failure to act.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 13 July 2012 case file II SAB/Wa 30/12 ruled that the public authority has not provided the requested information, because the Mayor had only indicated its source – the online Public Information Bulletin (BIP). According to the Court, the Mayor should also give a direct link, under which the requested information is located. The mere URL to the BIP of the Community, cannot be considered as complying with the request.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Łódź in its judgment of 29 June 2012 case file I SA/Łd 657/12 held that the agreement that provides the website to use for advertisers is deemed as the unnamed contract and is similar in its provisions to a contract of tenancy as defined in the Article 693 of the Civil Code – CC – (in Polish: Kodeks Cywilny) of 23 April 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 16, item 93, with subsequent amendments.
Article 693. § 1. By a contract of tenancy, the landlord shall assume the obligation to give a thing to the tenant for use and the collection of fruits for definite or indefinite time, and the tenant shall assume the obligation to pay to the landlord the rent agreed upon.
The Court decided that the income from advertising should be taxed like tenancy contracts or leases, which allows a taxpayer to choose a lump sum settlement on registered revenues.
FS File Solutions Ltd. is the owner of a popular hosting website chomikuj.pl that allows for hosting different files by using a simple web interface. The Polish Chamber of Books (PCB) is Poland’s publishing industry trade body that found many of its titles available on chomikuj.pl without the permission of copyright holders. The PCB issued negative press and TV statements regarding chomiku.pl policy and business model. The Company sued the PCB for the infringement of its personal interests. FS claimed that by calling it “pirate service” the PCB infringed on its the company name (firm).
The District Court in Warszawa I Civil Chamber in its judgment of 20 February 2013 case file I C 407/12 ruled that PCB did not infringed personal interests of FS.
Edwin Góral, the Polish legal advisor (a profession similar to English solicitor), requested the Office of the Attorney General of the State Treasury to print at his own expense and sent him all the lawsuits and complaints filed by the Attorney General of the State Treasury Office in 2011, until 30 June. The President of the Office refused to disclose the requested information and decided that the Office of the Attorney General of the State Treasury is not an entity obligated to disclose public information, in particular, the documents produced by legal advisors who work for the Office and perform representation activities. Edwin Góral filed a comaplaint against this decision.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 29 December 2011 case file II SAB/Wa 357/11 dismissed it. The Court ruled that even if the contents of suits, summons, statements of claims, writs are considered as public information, the provisions of Article 1(2) of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments, provides that their disclosure should be specified in separate laws. The disclosure of civil suits (petitions) is possible under the provisions of the Civil Proceedings Code – CPC (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Cywilnego) of 17 November 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 43, item 296, with subsequent amendments.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 23 July 2012 case file I OSK 896/12 dismissed the cassation complaint. The Court noted that the announcement of judgment occurs in open court. Judgments, including decisions of the Polish Court of Competition and Consumer Protection, should be disclosed to the public by a court as provided in the CPC. Similarly, the right of access to the case file, to receive copies of or extracts is governed by the provisions of the Civil Proceedings Code. It should be noted that this is a completely different position to that adopted in the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 11 August 2011 case file I OSK 933/11. See “Access to public information, case I OSK 933/11“.