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By Jabeen Bhatti
Jan. 5 — In one of the most financially significant privacy sanctions in Germany, the data protection authority for the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate recently levied a fine of 1.3 million euros ($1.5 million) on German insurance company Debeka for violating data protection laws.
The DPA began compliance proceedings against the company in December 2013 after receiving complaints that its employees had allegedly purchased personal data of future civil servants in order to recruit them as clients, the DPA said in a Dec. 29 statement.
During the course of its investigation, the DPA found that employees at Debeka—one of the principal insurers for civil servants in Germany—had in some cases “disregarded data protection laws” by paying public sector employees to obtain the personal data of trainee public servants.
The personal data was obtained without the consent of those affected, violating internal company policies as well as national data protection law, the DPA said.
Debeka's management and directors have accepted the fine, improved the company's data protection processes and procedures and appointed 26 company data protection officers to ensure future compliance, the Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information of Rhineland-Palatinate Edgar Wagner said in the statement.
The company, which is based in Koblenz, Germany, will also provide the University of Mainz with 600,000 euros ($714,939) to finance a professorship to research and promote effective data protection.
Debeka management won't be fined for privacy law compliance oversight failures, according to the statement.
On ongoing criminal investigation by the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry for Justice & Consumer Protection may still result in charges against nine Debeka employees over bribes, privacy law breaches or trade secret agreement breaches.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jabeen Bhatti in Berlin at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald G. Aplin at firstname.lastname@example.org
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