UPDATED WITH IVAN BUTTIGIEG’S REACTION
The involvement of the Labour Party in the collation of data leaked in the enormous C-Planet data leak should be investigated, Corinne Vella, for the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, told The Shift.
The Shift spoke to the foundation after it announced “breakthrough” news on Tuesday that it was former PL official and candidate Ivan Vladimir Buttigieg who had handed the data over to C-Planet on a pen drive, “containing personal data of everyone on Malta’s electoral register.”
The foundation, along with NGO Repubblika and 600+ claimants had initiated court proceedings into the March 2020 leak, which had exposed the personal details of over 300,000 Maltese voters, including details on voting preferences.
Buttigieg was also CEO of the General Workers Union subsidiary Untours Ltd. at the time. On Wednesday, Lovin Malta reported that Buttigieg had contested the 2013 general election, “following decades of strong links to the party”.
Vella told The Shift that this latest development “shows a close link between a political party and the collation of voters’ preferences without the data subject’s permission”.
In light of this, the possible involvement of the party in the collation of data should be investigated, she said. Noting that the Labour Party has been in government from shortly after the data was handed over, Vella also questioned the abuse of such information.
“The potential abuse of voter information by the executive should be investigated too,” she said.
Later on Wednesday, Buttigieg denied involvement in the leak of data relating to C-Planet, claiming that what was said under oath is “sheer lies and inventions emanating from the owner of a discredited business.” In the statement, Buttigieg said that he is currently seeking legal advice.
In comments to The Shift earlier in May, the foundation’s director Matthew Caruana Galizia had said that the Labour Party has so far not denied responsibility.
Buttigieg’s name was revealed by C-Planet managing director Philip Farrugia during testimony in court on Tuesday. Farrugia said that Untours Ltd had hired him to design management software, and that this was the reason Buttigieg had given C-Planet the database. Farrugia is a former production director at the Labour Party media, One Productions and the brother-in-law of Parliamentary Secretary for EU funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi.
The breakthrough news comes just a week after European digital rights NGO noyb announced that it had filed another complaint against C-Planet with the Information & Data Protection Commissioner’s (IDPC) office as, till then, the company had “failed to give the name of the person from whom they received the data”. Noyb explicitly asked the IDPC to order C-Planet to provide information on the original source of the data.
“The desire of public authorities to get to the bottom of a serious crime must be greater than the desire to close the file and move on. We need the truth about who is spying on everyone in Malta, about who collected that data on a huge number of voters,” Matthew Caruana Galizia had told The Shift.
In January, C-Planet was fined €65,000 for the data beach. The company has appealed the decision.