Hungary’s data protection authority has fined the Church of Scientology in Hungary and its headquarters 20 million forints (EUR 65,000) each for abuse of personal and other data, the authority’s head said on Friday.
The National Data Protection Authority (NAIH) had been conducting an investigation into the organisation and its headquarters since last December, Attila Péterfalvi told a press conference.
The investigation found that
Further, the organisation and its headquarters were found to have abused the personal details of their members and third parties, he added.
the case was the most severe violation of data protection rules ever encountered by the authority.
He said the authority launched the investigation after receiving a number of complaints from the organisation’s members. At its first on-site inspection at the organisation’s headquarters, NAIH seized 137 folders and electronic devices. This was followed by further inspections.
The preclear folders seized by the authority included dossiers and containing information about members’ lives, “ethics folders” detailing the organisation’s means of dealing with violations of its code of ethics and folders containing correspondence between the Church of Scientology and its members.
The investigation also found that
the organisation’s staff were required to disclose a significant amount of information about themselves, including details about their sexual relationships and friendships.
Attila Miklovicz, the Church of Scientology’s spokesman, and Laszlo Lange, representing the Scientology publication Ember és szabadság (Man and Freedom), as well as the organisation’s lawyer, were among the reporters at the press conference but were asked to leave because they could not provide proof that they had registered for the event.
Before Péterfalvi began his press conference, Miklovicz accused the data protection authority of trying to “destroy the Church of Scientology”. Miklovicz asked Peterfalvi whether he was biased against the organisation, citing reports of the NAIH chief having attended an anti-Scientology event in the past. The spokesman said the organisation had been given no means to defend itself during the investigation.
Péterfalvi insisted that expressing an opinion based on his personal experiences with the organisation did not constitute bias.
As we wrote, Police raided the Church of Scientology of Budapest headquarters in Váci Road on Wednesday morning.
The organisation is not on Hungary’s official register of churches.