Bulgarian Parties Misused Personal Data Ahead of EU Vote
Some Bulgarian citizens have found out their signatures and uniform civil numbers (EGN) were on a party's list for registration at EU elections, although they do not support it.
The news comes a few days after the deadline for registration of EU vote candidates at Bulgaria's Central Electoral Commission and was reported by scores of media in the country. The Commission later announced that citizens could check their entries in party lists by typing their EGN on its website.
Short afterwards, tens of Bulgarians reported that their personal data was on the lists of parties they neither had signed in favour of nor even backed and were thus backed as part of the supporters quota needed for registration.
Bulgaria's election watchdog has advised citizens whose personal data was misused to lodge a complaint with the Commission for Personal Data Protection.
Officials from the Commission were clear that each party that has provided the number of signatures needed will be allowed to run at May 25's elections, regardless of fraud instances.
The software used to establish one's presence in party elections lists has also drawn significant criticism.
Aleksandar Kashamov, a lawyer working for the Access to Information Programme NGO, said that the EGN checking option at the Central Electoral Commission's website gave grounds for abuse of the so-called sensitive personal data like political views.
Kashamov argued the option to establish anyone's political affiliation by typing his EGN could lead to a "corporate vote", as an employer (having personal data at his disposal) could always learn which parties are supported by members of his staff.
He warned that the Interior Ministry, which has a list of all citizens' EGNs, could now use them to add a "political views" column to their profile.
Proposals to change the verification mechanism (by adding e-mail or SMS procedures) are expected to be explored at a sitting of the Central Electoral Commission later on Tuesday.
Antoaneta Tsoneva, chair of the Public Council at the Central Electoral Commission, said for Club Z website that both smaller and bigger parties had misused personal data.
She argued that a "large-scale" signature fraud had been committed.
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