Even the church is not spared from the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.
You could see them walking on the streets, especially during weekends. They are a group of people, men, women, children and elders. They knock on your doors and present their pamphlets preaching about their devotion. The religious sector claims of having members over than 8 million around the world.
Jehovah’s Witnesses is not excused from the data protection law as pointed out by the court. According to the European Court of Justice, the religious sect way of preaching stretches further the private domain of a member of a theological community is an evangelist. In short, the data has to do with the individuals who are not followers of the church. It is one reason why it should not be acknowledged as a manifestation of the tenet of those ministers. That being said, the data should be governed in the same manner that any group will.
The court stated as well that the said religious sect should ask permission from people before getting their personal information during their door-to-door visits. The dispute began when the Finnish Data Protection Supervisor prohibits the religious group from gathering personal data from the households that they drop by.
The discernment demonstrates that the said religious sect maintains a list of individuals who have requested not to be communicated which is known as a “refusal register.” It also includes the people’s name and addresses is reached, along with the information regarding their divine principles and family conditions. The Jehovah Witnesses argued that their proselytizing should be acknowledged as a private religious endeavor and the reports that were noted during visits are likewise personal.
A religious sect could be excused from the data protection provisions if followers or members commune with each other in their own society. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ way of door-to-door preaching is conducted externally from the privileged environment of the followers who immerse in proselytizing. Although the collected information has not been handled centrally in a customary “filing system” like a conventional database, it still is regarded by the law.
Andrew Charlesworth from the University of Bristol law school said, “What the Jehovah’s Witnesses are doing, of course, is going out and talking to random people, so that really doesn’t fall within that. When they process personal data and particularly special categories of personal data, they are required to comply with exactly the same legal requirements as everyone else.”
The EU court points out that a religious sect practice of gathering personal data should be emphasized to the people they visit as to how and why such pertinent information is being accumulated. If it is just for personal gain just like selling it to third-parties, it would be a different story.
Personal data is a precious thing that should not be given away easily or without permission. At the Decenternet platform, confidential details regarding a person are well-secured. It does not distribute or share personal information with anybody specifically without the consent of the owners.
Another religious sect, the Church of England prohibits its members not to gather personal information from people who are to be prayed over. They must ask for consent if the data is whether to be publicized on a pamphlet, social media, or website.