Bulgarian Parliament voted on February 20 to overturn President Roumen Radev’s veto on personal data protection act amendments, meant to transpose the European Union’s general data protection regulation (GDPR).
The motion carried with 127 MPs in favour, one opposed and four abstentions, with the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party still absent from Parliament in protest over last week’s Electoral Code amendments.
Radev vetoed the bill earlier this month, arguing that the provision listing 10 criteria regarding the use of personal data for “journalistic purposes and the purposes of academic, artistic or literary expression” created “over-regulation” and imposed limitations on the freedom of speech and information in favour of personal data protection.
Radev said that GDPR specifically instructed EU member states to balance the right to personal data protection with freedom of speech, without one infringing on the other.
“My worry is that under the guise of criteria for proportionate personal data protection, basic constitutional freedoms are being limited. The real public effect of such a list would reflect on those exercising the freedom to express an opinion and information, regardless of whether their behaviour is subject to administrative or judicial proceedings,” Radev said in his veto motives.
“This would make the behaviour of journalists, writers and scientists too predictable and in line with the law, but not always in the interest of truth. As a result of this legislative decision, the losing side would be the entire society,” Radev said.
The president’s veto is his first for this year and his thirteenth since taking office just over two years ago. All but one of his vetoes have been overturned by Parliament.
(Bulgarian Parliament photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)