Data Regulator Imposes Fines On Greek Ministry Of Interior

Greek opposition parties now demand Interior Minister Niki Kerameos to resign after the results of the (PDPA) investigation

by Alan J May 28th, 2024

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The Greek Personal Data Protection Authority (PDPA) has imposed significant fines on the Greek Ministry of Interior and New Democracy MEP Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou for their roles in violating data protection regulations in the ’email-gate’ scandal.

The fines come after an investigation into the “email-gate” scandal, in which Asimakopoulou was accused of sending unsolicited emails to Greeks living abroad ahead of the European Parliament elections in June.

Ministry of Interior Violations and Consequences

The authority found that a file of 25,000 voters registered for the June 2023 elections had been leaked between June 8 and 23, 2023. The list, which included voter emails, was sent to New Democracy’s then Secretary for Diaspora Affairs, Nikos Theodoropoulos, by an unknown individual.

Theodoropoulos forwarded the file to MEP Asimakopoulou, who used it to send mass campaign emails in violation of data protection laws and basic principles of legality.

Source: Shutterstock (MEP Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou)

On receiving the unsolicited emails to their private accounts, several Greek diaspora voters living abroad expressed their surprise on social media and accused the New Democracy MEP of violating the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The expats questioned how the addresses were obtained by the MEP for use in the email campaigns.

Asimakopoulou earlier attempted to refute allegations of violating these data protection laws but was found to provide contradictory explanations regarding the source from which these addresses were obtained for usage in the mass email campaign.

As a result, the Ministry of Interior faces a 400,000-euro fine, while Asimakopoulou faces a 40,000-euro fine. The authority also postponed its verdict on Theodoropoulos and the New Democracy party  to examine new claims related to the investigation.

The PDPA stated in its investigation that the use of the emails, “was in violation of the basic principle of legality, objectivity and transparency of processing, as it was in violation of a series of provisions of the electoral legislation and furthermore could not reasonably be expected.”

The ministry said it will “thoroughly study” the authority’s decision to consider further legal actions. The “email-gate” scandal has led to significant consequences, including the resignation of the general secretary of the Interior Ministry, Michalis Stavrianoudakis, and the dismissal of Theodoropoulos by New Democracy.

Asimakopoulou has announced she will not run in the European Parliament elections. Asimakopoulou is also facing 75 lawsuits by citizens and over 200 lawsuits from the Interior Ministry, over the scandal.

Reaction of Opposition Parties to the Investigation Results

Opposition parties are now demanding the resignation of Interior Minister Niki Kerameos following the outcome of the investigation into the unsolicited emails.

Source: Shuttertock (Interior Minister Niki Kerameos)

The main opposition party SYRIZA released a statement asserting that “private data were being passed around for months among the Interior Ministry, ND, and at least one election candidate,” questioning whether the email list had been leaked to other New Democracy candidates by the Interior Ministry.

While the Interior Minister might not have been directly involved, SYRIZA claimed that “Kerameos did not have the guts to show up at the Committee on Institutions and Transparency.” The Socialist PASOK Party also demanded Kerameos’ resignation, adding that the violation demonstrates the government as “incapable of fulfilling the self-evident, as proven by the high fines.”


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