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Data Protection May Not Apply to ‘Rich List’ Alerts

(CN) - A company that sends text messages disclosing the incomes of Finland's wealthiest citizens might be exempt from European data-protection laws through an exception for "journalistic activities," Europe's highest court ruled.

Markkinaporssi collects data from the Finnish tax authorities and provides it to Satamedia, an associated company. Satamedia charges users 2 euros to receive text messages containing the income data collected by Markkinaporssi.

The European Court of Justice determined that the companies' operation constitutes "data processing" within the meaning of the Data Protection Directive.

However, their services could fall under the journalism exemption if the data are processed "solely for journalistic purposes."

The court said it was up to the national court to decide "if the sole object of these activities is the disclosure to the public of information, opinions or ideas."

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