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Lawyer: Data leak victims should bide their time before filing damages claims

Maarja Pild.
Maarja Pild. Source: Kirke Ert

Victims of the gene information leak at Asper Biogene should wait for more clarity in the matter before filing claims for damages, data protection specialist Maarja Pild told ERR. She does not believe people can expect major damages sums.

Because the Data Protection Inspectorate's investigation is ongoing, we don't know whether the blame is with the hospitals that gave Asper Biogene the data or the medical laboratory who allowed the data to be stolen, Pild told ERR's Russian television channel ETV+. "We don't know the nature of the contracts the hospital and the laboratory had," she said.

"Everyone has the right to turn to court or go up against the organization right away. But lawyers always look at the chances of patients and those of the hospital. And that's why, for as long as we don't know who is to blame, perhaps it would pay to wait a little," Pild said.

In most cases, damages require proving that the person suffered financial loss in personal information misuse cases, which is often difficult to prove, the attorney said.

Talking about the potential size of damages, Pild said they will not make anyone wealthy. "Looking at incidents in different countries, even in Germany, non-material damages did not exceed €10,000."

But if all 10,000 persons affected file claims, it could spell bankruptcy for the hospitals and the laboratory, which is what happened in Finland when a data leak at the Vastaamo private psychotherapy clinic ended in its bankruptcy.

Talking about a class action suit, which is common practice in many other countries, there is no such opportunity in Estonia yet, whereas an amendment now would not be in effect retroactively for this case.

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Editor: Boriss Timofejev, Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski

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