Lisbon City Council

Russiagate: new complaint against Lisbon city council demands reinstatement of ‘scapegoat’

Lisbon city council faces millions in potential fines following the ‘Russiagate scandal’ – the incident that highlights it has been breaking data protection rules for potentially vulnerable citizens for years (click here).

But now there is another ‘complaint’ against it: for essentially creating a scapegoat – and sending him packing (click here).

The bottom line in this story is that the buck should always stop at the top – in this case Mayor of Lisbon City Council Fernando Medina.

But because this is a key election year (municipal elections are ‘round the corner’, scheduled for September 26) and because Medina intends to fight his corner against a collective of smaller parties, the decision to fire an employee who was only following standard practice seems to have been ‘accepted’ by the powers that be.

Not so the Association of Professionals for Data Protection, which has lodged a complaint with the CNPD, (national commission for data protection) claiming the dismissal is illegal.

President of the association Inês Oliveira explains: “We still have some hope that it won’t happen. We are convinced the dismissal is yet another infraction, joining the 225 already detected by the CNPD, as it violates article 38, clause 3 of data protection regulations which say ‘an employee cannot be sacked or penalised for the fact of exercising his/ her duties’.

Ms Oliveria tells Expresso that she hopes the CNPD ‘sanctions’ Lisbon City Council – meaning slaps it with yet another fine – and then insists the man used as the scapegoat for this shameful affair is reinstated (click here).

CNPD’s decision is needed pronto, says Ms Oliveira, as there are now 3,620 people responsible for data protection in Portugal who are terrified the same fate could await them (ie the minute any new  ‘scandal’ hits, they might be the ones used as patsies).

She stresses the decision to sack Lisbon City Council’s long-term employee has been “disastrous” for the profession as a whole which has been left “frightened to make decisions”.

What is perhaps most shocking in this affair is that the City Council appears not even to have taken legal advice. The decision was simply made to ‘sack’ an employee in the hope this would ‘satisfy’ critics.

While the CNPD considers this latest politically red-hot complaint, it has to be stressed that the City Council already faces many millions in fines over the scandal.

Says Expresso, each of the 225 incidents where people’s data was erroneously passed to 3rd parties in the context of demonstrations organised sees the council liable for fines of between 10 and 20 million euros.

[email protected]