Conflict between privacy and the right of access to documents: the TAR Puglia decision

A new chapter opens in the debate between privacy and access to documents, with an insurance company filing an appeal against a Local Health Authority (ASL) for rejected access to documents concerning a road accident.

The company insisted on the importance of reviewing the recording of a call to emergency services (118) to verify the dynamics of the accident reported in a compensation claim, diverging from what was determined by the Carabinieri (Italian military police).

The ASL denied access, arguing the personal data nature contained in the recording, sparking a legal dispute that brought the case before the Puglia Regional Administrative Court (TAR).

The TAR recognized the insurance company’s legitimate interest in accessing the recording, crucial to verify the accident’s dynamics and prevent fraud. However, it also emphasized the need to protect privacy and sensitive data, suggesting obscuring irrelevant or sensitive parts of the recording.

The ruling, issued on February 5, 2024, upholds the insurance company’s appeal with the condition that the ASL adopts measures to protect sensitive data, ensuring access to relevant information, thus offering a compromise solution between the company’s defense rights and the privacy of the individuals involved. The TAR particularly underscores the importance of limiting access to only necessary information, respecting the principles of minimization and proportionality.

Furthermore, it requires ASL to develop specific procedures to obscure sensitive parts of the recording, ensuring that only relevant information is made available to the insurance company.

The judgment at hand sets an important precedent regarding the management of requests for access to documents containing sensitive data, balancing the protection of personal data with the legitimate needs of the parties involved.