EU Court Takes a Broad View of the Term “Special Categories of Data”

The European Union’s high court has ruled that data capable of revealing a person’s sexual orientation (either by cross-referencing or inference) falls within the GDPR’s special categories of personal data (i.e., sensitive data), even if the data does not directly express the person’s sexual orientation.

The decision was delivered in a case questioning the lawfulness of a Lithuanian requirement from individuals in public service to publish a declaration of their private interests to disclose conflict of interests. Lithuania required that the declaration include, among other things, detailed information about the declarant’s “spouse, cohabitee or partner”.

The court held that the name-specific data regarding the spouse, cohabitant, or partner, make it possible to infer certain information concerning the sex life or sexual orientation of the declarant. Therefore, in this context, the data is considered to be a special category of personal data.

CLICK HERE to read the Grand Chamber’s ruling in the case of OT v Vyriausioji tarnybinės etikos komisija.