By Florence D’Ath, Lola Lenfant, Stéphanie De Smedt

On 10 July 2018, the EU Court of Justice rendered a judgement in a case relating to the data processing activities of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Community. The Court of Justice was asked by the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland whether a religious community such as Jehovah’s Witnesses could be regarded as a “joint data controller” with respect to the collection of personal data by its members, even if the Community itself did not have access to the data collected by the members and did not give strict instructions relating to the processing hereof.

This judgment clarifies several key concepts of European data protection legislation, which remain very relevant under the EU General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (GDPR).