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WSA Warsaw - II Sa/Wa 2222/20 WSA

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WSA Warsaw - II Sa/Wa 2222/20 WSA
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Court: WSA Warsaw (Poland)
Jurisdiction: Poland
Relevant Law: Article 4(1) GDPR
Article 78 GDPR
Decided: 05.05.2021
Published: 26.06.2021
Parties: Główny Geodeta Kraju
National Case Number/Name: II Sa/Wa 2222/20 WSA
European Case Law Identifier:
Appeal from: UODO (Poland)
DKN.5112.13.2020.88521
Appeal to:
Original Language(s): Polish
Original Source: UODO (in Polish)
Initial Contributor: n/a

The Provincial Administrative Court for Warsaw confirmed that the unique numbers identifying land and mortgage registers in Poland are a form of personal data. The Court dismissed the appeal of the Chief National Surveyor against a decision by the Polish DPA, finding that the Surveyor had no legal ground to disclose the register numbers on its website. It also upheld a fine of approximately €22,150 (PLN100,000) against the Surveyor.

English Summary[edit | edit source]

Facts[edit | edit source]

On 24 August 2020, the Polish DPA fined the Chief National Surveyor (Główny Geodeta Kraju, GGK) 100,000 PLN for violating Article 5(1)(a) GDPR and Article 6(1) GDPR by publishing, on its website, numbers of land and mortgage registers without any legal basis.

Users of the website, without any additional authorization, had direct access to the land and mortgage registers via hyperlinked numbers. Each register included, inter alia, names and surnames of property owners and their parents, PESEL numbers and real estate addresses.

GGK appealed this decision, arguing that the legal basis for the publishing of register numbers on the website was confirmed by Chapter 6 of Annex II to the Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2007 establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE).

Holding[edit | edit source]

The Court dismissed the appeal and held that the unique numbers identifying land and mortgage registers are personal data.

According to the Court, the publication of land and mortgage register numbers allows for easy, indirect identification of property owners. Thus, the land and mortgage register numbers constitute personal data.

The Court also stated that GGK had no legal grounds to disclose these register numbers (as the INSPIRE Directive did not relate to the issue in question), and deliberately violated the provisions of the GDPR. It held that the € 22,150 (100,000 PLN) fine which the DPA imposed on GGK is therefore justified.

The Court also found that the GGK violated Article 36(4)(16) of the Act of 6 July 1982 on land and mortgage registers. The court found that the argument of the GKK that the restrictions set out in this provision did not apply in this case was incorrect.

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English Machine Translation of the Decision[edit | edit source]

The decision below is a machine translation of the Polish original. Please refer to the Polish original for more details.

 The land and mortgage register number allows you to easily identify the owner of the property

    The Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw, in the justification to the judgment of 5 May 2021, which dismissed the complaint of the Chief National Surveyor against the decision of the President of the Personal Data Protection Office, confirmed that the numbers of land and mortgage registers are personal data. He also stated that GGK had no legal grounds to disclose these numbers on the Geoportal2 website and deliberately violated the provisions on the protection of personal data, therefore a fine of PLN 100,000. PLN, which the President of UODO imposed on GGK is justified.
In the justification to the judgment ref. No. Act. II Sa / Wa 2222/20 The Provincial Administrative Court found that the publication of land and mortgage register numbers allows for easy indirect identification of property owners. Thus, the number of the land and mortgage register constitutes personal data. The Provincial Administrative Court also indicated that the view that land and mortgage register numbers are personal data is not new, and it was confirmed by the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of September 26, 2018, issued in the case no. no.I OSK 11/17.
When examining the complaint against the decision of the President of the Personal Data Protection Office, the Provincial Administrative Court decided that the GGK's actions allowed the users of the Geoportal2 website to have direct access to the contents of the land and mortgage registers. The numbers of land and mortgage registers included in it were also links redirecting users directly to the website of the Ministry of Justice to electronic land and mortgage registers. In the opinion of the court, this functionality meant that users did not even have to enter the land and mortgage register number in order to access the information contained therein, including the personal data of the owner of a given property.
By clicking on the link, the user had access to the land and mortgage register, which includes, inter alia, first names, surnames of the property owner, parents' names, PESEL number, real estate address. He did not need any additional permissions for this.
In the opinion of the Provincial Administrative Court, the GGK argument that the basis for publishing the land and mortgage register numbers on the website ww.geoportal.pl was not confirmed by Chapter 6 of Annex II to the Commission Regulation (EU) No. 1089/2010 of November 23, 2010 on the implementation of Directive 2007 / 2AA / E of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the interoperability of spatial data sets and services. In the opinion of the court, the regulations contained in this ordinance in no way relate to the issue of publishing the numbers of land and mortgage registers on the website www.geoportal.gov.pl.
The Provincial Administrative Court also found that the GGK, by publishing the land and mortgage register numbers obtained from the land register on the geoportal.gov.pl website, also violated Art. 36 with the stamp 4 paragraph. 16 of the Act of 6 July 1982 on land and mortgage registers and mortgage. The court found that the argument of the Chief National Surveyor that the restrictions set out in this provision did not apply to him was incorrect. In the opinion of the court, the GGK may not violate the legal restrictions imposed on the starosts by the above-mentioned provision within the framework of its cooperation with starosts on the basis of concluded agreements.
In addition, this provision allows starosts to gain access to the data contained in the first and second sections of the land and mortgage register. Meanwhile, the GGK, by publishing the numbers of the land and mortgage registers, which were at the same time links redirecting to the website of the Ministry of Justice to the electronic land and mortgage register system, made it possible for the users of the Geoportal2 website to read the full contents of the land and mortgage register.
The court also assessed that UODO correctly collected and assessed the evidence, which was questioned by GGK.
Below, the full text of the justification for the judgment of the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw of May 5, 2021.

        
            2021-06-28