I don't believe Wikipedia could be a data
controller as it has no legal
personality, and legal personality is quite difficult to acquire when you
set out to avoid acquiring it.
On this point I must disagree.
I'd be interested to hear why :-)
I think also though that if editors are potentially liable, then so are
legal persons that engage in similar activity. Say for instance a European
Wikimedia chapter engaged with a national archive to update Wikidata with a
few million records, including some on living people. Arguably both of them
could be acting as data controllers on those records for the rest of the
duration of Wikidata. Hmmmmm.....
However, even if my line of thinking is correct,
I think Wikipedia's
existing policies wouldn't need much amendment. Processing of personal
is allowed so long as it complies with the
various duties on data
processors, e.g. being accurate and processed for a legitimate purpose.
Accuracy is no defense! That's one of the chief lessons of the ECJ
opinion. And building an encyclopedia is not named as "a legitimate
purpose" by the ECJ. (If it were, all Google would have to do is
revive its own experiment in encyclopedias, Knol, but this time give
it a compatible Creative Commons license.)
We have quite a clear purpose in processing data
- the provision of an
encyclopedia. We already limit ourselves to truthful and accurate
of data subjects (e.g. the BLP policy); and we
already have something
analogous to a public-interest test as to whether we process this data at
all (the notability principle).
Google has a clear purpose too, and it was no defense. Plus, there is
a public-interest argument in favor of eschewing the erasure of true,
accurate public data that happens to be old.
This is all the case, but the decision makes it clear that this is a
question in striking a balance between the interests of the data subject
(the "right to be forgotten", i.e. the ability to enjoy a private life),
and the interests of others. This derives from Article 7(f) of the original
It also makes it clear that this balance may be struck in different places
in different situations; for instance at Paragraph 81, talking about the
balance of public interest in people who have taken a role in public
life who are arguably the sort we cover in our articles.
I'd agree that there is no clarity about what would happen if someone
pursued this course of action with Wikipedia, but there are many
differences between our case and Google's...