On July 21, 2016 CEELM reported that Fort had represented credit bureau UAB Creditinfo in a case before the Supreme Administrative Court involving the legality of using data published on Facebook to assess the creditworthiness of those who publish it. Creditinfo — which doesn’t have an in-house legal team — was advised by lawyer Anatolijus Kisielis, who we reached out to for comment.
The story on the CEE Legal Matters website asserted that "the Court decided that the data published by users of the Facebook social network may be used for assessing their creditworthiness.” Can you elaborate on the Court’s holding? What does that mean in practice, exactly? Can you give an example?
A.K.: Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania ruled that users‘ data on social networks could be used for assessing their creditworthiness. That means that if a lender has a scoring system, he is available to ask a borrower to submit social network‘s data for social credit score calculations. Examples of similar models from Western countries show that social data is important source of information about person‘s characteristics. For instance, if social data suggests that a person is impulsive, indiscreet, ignores public norms or has addictions, you probably will treat that person differently compared with person with positive characteristics.
What kind of data are we talking about, and how will Creditinfo benefit from the Court’s ruling, exactly?
A.K.: Court ruling do not specify data. It states that there is no end list of personal data in Personal Data Protection Act that could be used for assessing credit risk. In addition, such data as client‘s profile information, activities, pages a person follows, visited places, correct grammar and other information could be used for creditworthiness evaluation.
Did the case arise from a specific attempt by Creditinfo to use such data in the past? Can you elaborate on the particular facts of the case?
A.K.: Credit bureau Creditinfo developed social credit score in 2014. This score is a numerical expression (from 300 to 800) based on analysis of user presence at social network, to represent a creditworthiness of a consumer. Creditinfo then made an application for State Data Protection Inspectorate to be registered as Facebook data processor. However, due to lack of legal practice Inspectorate rejected Creditinfo application. One of the main Inspectorate arguments was that: a) that social network data cannot be used for creditworthiness assessment because of different data procesing purposes; b) there is an end list of personal data in Personal Data Protection Act that could be used for assessing credit risk.
Why exactly did Creditinfo choose the Fort law firm to represent it in this case?
A.K.: Prof. Dr. Mindaugas Kiškis is recognized in legal community as a highly qualified expert in personal data with a large practical experience. Creditinfo and Mr. Kiškis’ close cooperation already lasts several years.
What sort of evidence and experts were considered by the Administrative Court in making its decision?
A.K.: Court ruling was based on Lithuanian, EU legal practice and logic.