Land and mortgage register number makes it possible to obtain personal data – CHR confirms
The President of the Personal Data Protection Office was pleased to learn that the Commissioner for Human Rights (CHR) had drawn attention to the problem of the disclosure of land and mortgage register numbers, which leads to the acquisition of much of the personal data contained in the registers.
During the meeting with the Surveyor General of Poland (GGK), the Commissioner for Human Rights presented his assessment that "universal access to such detailed data of the persons on whom these rights are conferred harmed the informational autonomy of the individual by limiting it significantly."
The assessment of the Commissioner for Human Rights confirms the argumentation of the President of the Personal Data Protection Office stated in an administrative decision dated 24 August 2020, which ordered the GGK to cease making available on the GEOPORTAL2 website personal data in the scope of land and mortgage register numbers obtained from the land and buildings register. The Personal Data Protection Office also imposed an administrative fine in the amount of PLN 100 000 for the fact that in connection with the disclosure of land and mortgage register numbers, the principle of lawfulness of personal data processing was violated. The disclosure of these data was intentional and without legal basis.
In the case with the GGK, the Personal Data Protection Office from the very beginning pointed out that the land and mortgage register numbers processed on www.geoportal.gov.pl constitute personal data. Pursuant to the GDPR, ‘personal data means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person.
Meanwhile, by disclosing the land and mortgage register number, anyone interested may easily obtain such data as first names, surnames, parents' names, personal identification number (PESEL number) or property address. This in turn may lead to a number of dangers connected with the use of such data, such as the so-called identity theft, i.e. impersonation of a given person for criminal purposes.
The fact that the publication of the land and mortgage register number makes it easy to indirectly identify property owners and therefore it is personal data was also confirmed by the Voivodeship Administrative Court (WSA) in Warsaw, which on 5 May 2021 dismissed the Surveyor General of Poland’s complaint against the decision of the President of the Personal Data Protection Office.