Nina Boteva Law Office

Newsletter June 2020

On 29 May 2020 a Bill supplementing the Personal Data Protection Act (the Bill) was presented to the Bulgarian Parliament for debate, directed against the so-called "fake news" in the electronic environment. At present, it is legally possible an anonymous person to publish information of unproven origin on a given website. In addition, there is no legal requirement for the owners of online platforms to indicate their names and address for correspondence. This creates a risk of inadequate defence before the court from a person who has been a subject of fake news due to lack of information for the owner of the site on the one hand and on the other hand on the person who published the false news.

As a result of the above considerations, the initiators of the Bill propose new provisions in the Personal Data Protection Act which oblige the owners of the Internet sites to disclose certain information. In this regard, every website owner will be obligated to monitor more closely the content of the news published through his site, in order to prevent the spread of fake news for fear of criminal liability.

The proposed new provisions (which will be debated and voted in the Parliament) stipulate that all owners of websites, online platforms, social media accounts and online blogs are required to provide the following information as data controllers (administrators):

  • For natural persons - full name, address or telephone and e-mail to contact the administrator;
  • For legal entities - name, UIC or registration identifier of a foreign company, the name of the representative of the legal entity, contact person (if different from the representative), telephone and e-mail contact.

The Bill provides for the following presumption - in case the above information is not available on the site or is incorrect, the domain data provider is considered the administrator of personal data. The initiators of the Bill introduce the term "misinformation in the Internet environment" and define the same as follows – “distribution through social networks, Internet sites or otherwise in the Internet environment, through websites accessible from the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, of a publication containing false information concerning natural persons or legal entities”.

Any change in ownership of websites, online platforms, social media accounts and online blogs should be reflected immediately. The competent authority that monitors compliance with the new obligation by the website owners is the Commission for Personal Data Protection (The Commission). In case of a breach of the lawfulness of the processing of personal data or of dissemination of misinformation on the Internet, the Commission shall bring a claim before the Sofia District Court that all undertakings providing public electronic communications networks and / or services suspend access to the relevant websites.

The term in which the Sofia District Court should issue a decree is 72 hours, and the above-mentioned undertakings should suspend the access within 24 hours.

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