Greek authority fines interior ministry over voters' emails leak

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's data protection authority has fined the interior ministry 400,000 euros ($434,880) for leaking the email addresses of thousands of expatriate voters in June 2023.

The authority said late on Monday it had launched the investigation in March following dozens of complaints by voters who had received emails of political content from Greek European Parliament member Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou ahead the EU parliamentary election. The vote is taking place on June 6-9.

The probe showed a document containing the contact information of more than 20,000 expats who voted in a 2023 national election, was forwarded to people working outside the ministry, the authority said.

The interior ministry said on Tuesday it had ordered an investigation and had promised to fully clarify what happened.

Asimakopoulou, who was initially expected to run again in the EU election with the ruling centre-right New Democracy party, said in March she would not run in the EU vote unless light was shed on the case.

The document contained voters' data including their emails and phone numbers, the authority said, concluding that the initial leak occurred between June 8, 2023 - when the document was created ahead of the national election - and June 23, 2023.

On Jan. 20, the contact list was forwarded to Asimakopoulou who later used it to send emails to voters, the authority said, adding that it was a breach of data rules.

The ministerial document was for internal use and the fact that it was leaked constitutes a "breach of the confidentiality of personal data", the data protection authority concluded, adding that the ministry should revise its methods in protecting personal data.

The authority also imposed a 40,000 euro fine on Asimakopoulou.

($1 = 0.9198 euros)

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)