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Electoral Propaganda : How-To Rules by the Italian DPA

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Electoral Propaganda : How-To Rules by the Italian DPA
No Limitations on Using the Addresses in the Electoral Register, Consent Is Needed for Phone Calls, SMS-Messages and E-Mail

Provincial and municipal elections are about to be held and the Italian DPA recently issued a decision (to be published in Italy´s Official Journal of Laws and Regulations) to further confirm the rules set forth in a 2005 decision on this matter. In the decision , the DPA recalls how citizens´ personal data (postal address, phone number, email, etc.) may be used lawfully by political parties and candidates for electoral propaganda.

Cases Where No Consent Is Necessary. Political parties and organizations, organizing committees, supporters, individual candidates do not have to ask for consent if they wish to use the data contained in the electoral registers kept by municipalities; the same applies to the personal data relating to (registered) party members. Other lists and registers may also be used – e.g. the list of Italian electors who reside abroad – along with other publicly available documentary sources held by public bodies – e.g. lists of registered professionals, providing the by-laws of the respective Register enable disclosure in the form of a list of registered members.
Elected representatives may use any data they have collected in the course of their interactions with citizens and/or electors.

Cases Where Prior Consent Is Necessary. Consent is needed if certain electronic communication tools are used such as SMS-messages, emails, MMS-messages, automated (pre-recorded) phone calls and faxes. The same applies if one relies on information that has been gathered from the Internet via automated mechanisms and/or taken from forums and newsgroups, or else on directories of subscribers to a provider  and/or data posted on the web for different purposes.
The data on telephone subscribers - including those contained in subscriber directories - may only be used with the subscriber´s prior consent. The data concerning sympathizers and individuals who have been contacted in connection with and/or have taken part in specific initiatives (e.g. referendums, legislative proposals, collection of signatures, etc.) may only be used with the data subjects´ prior consent.

What Data May Not Be Used. The information contained in civil status registers or census registers, lists of addresses collected to discharge public bodies´ institutional tasks and functions and/or provide services (including health care), lists of registered electors that have already been used at a polling station, and any information that has been annotated privately by tellers and/or party representatives in the course of electoral procedures may not be used in any manner whatsoever, not even by elected representatives.

Information to Citizens. Citizens should be informed on how their data is used. If a data is not collected directly from the data subject, the information should be provided at the time the data subject is first contacted and/or the data is recorded. The DPA allowed political parties and candidates to temporarily refrain from providing information notices (until 30 September 2011)  if they rely on data taken from public lists and registers or make use of small-sized propaganda materials (leaflets, etc.).

Rome, 13 April 2011