Appeal to the citizens of Europe and their organisations

No to the retention of personal data by religions!

Following several divergent decisions by courts, tribunals and authorities in various European countries, it appears that there is a danger concerning citizens’ personal data held by religions and cults. We therefore propose that you sign the petition below, which will be sent to the European Parliament.

Freedom of conscience and belief is guaranteed in all European countries by various national and international texts, constitutions and declarations. Like other associations, denominations and faiths are authorised to record the personal data of their members in order to carry out the processing that appears relevant to both parties. This is within the limits of national laws and international commitments that countries have signed up to.

Freedom of conscience and belief includes the right to change belief, for example the right to change religion or to have no religion at all.

All religious and non-religious associations and groups must respect the same right, with the same guarantees for citizens: they must not unduly retain the personal data of those who leave them. In practice, several denominations claim to continue to retain control over this data, for reasons they consider legitimate, but which simply relate to their internal operations. For example, several Christian denominations refuse to delete the data of their former members, often recorded in their early childhood without their personal consent.

Several of these cases concerning Catholic baptism have been brought before the courts in recent years, and some have reached the highest levels of jurisdiction in the countries concerned, with differing results. For example, the French and Irish courts have denied former members of the faithful the right to have their personal data deleted from Catholic Church registers, while the Belgian Data Protection Authority has ordered strict compliance with ordinary law, i.e. deletion.

The undersigned organisations and citizens demand: that all religious associations, whatever their legal status in the countries concerned, be subject to common law, i.e. the deletion of the data of a person who has left a denomination as a result of exercising his or her freedom of conscience.

They call on governments and international authorities to take the necessary measures to ensure that this fundamental freedom is preserved.

To sign: