Three managers of four beauty centers were arrested by the Judiciary Police (PJ) on suspicion of violating the provisions of the personal data protection act, a PJ spokesperson revealed during the police forces’ joint press conference yesterday.
According to the PJ report, the police received the case from the Office for Personal Data Protection (GPDP) on July 9, stating that since the beginning of 2019, the Office has received complaints from many citizens claiming to be continuously disturbed by phone calls from the two beauty centers advertising services and promotions.
In the reports, the citizens stated that they had never had any previous contact with the companies and had never authorized the disclosure of their personal information for such purposes.
The same people told the GPDP that they did not want to receive such calls and had clearly stated that to the phone operator, yet the calls did not cease.
A preliminary investigation by the GPDP revealed that staff members were making phone calls on behalf of the two companies and advertising the services of the four centers located in the Areia Preta, Nam Van, and Taipa districts.
The Office also found that the companies involved in the promotion of beauty services had collected, processed, and shared citizens’ personal data among the different companies without notifying the GPDP, which is one of the requirements clearly stated by the personal data protection act.
The GPDP decided to forward the case to the PJ after the centers ignored the letters sent by the Office. The letters requested explanations, as well as warning the companies of their malpractice and ordering them to comply with the law.
During the police investigation, the PJ questioned a total of 19 people, all staff members from the two companies. Among them, three women were identified as the managers of the two companies.
Out of the three women, aged 39, 46, and 49 respectively, two are Hong Kong residents, while the third is a local resident. The PJ has taken them into custody under the crime of breaching the provisions of Article 37 of the Law 8/2005, or the “non-compliance with obligations relating to data protection.”
According to the law, the women, who were brought to the Public Prosecutions Office, face up to one year of imprisonment or a fine of up to 120 days.
In the past few years, most complaints about unlawful telemarketing practices have been related to beauty centers and salons with the GPDP fining several of these companies already.
In the most prominent case, revealed last month, a company named Hoi Sheung Sociedade Unipessoal Limitada was fined 1.08 million patacas by the personal data watchdog for data privacy breaches during its telemarketing activities. According to GPDP, the Office recorded a total of 26 law infractions committed by the company which resulted in the hefty fine.
At the time, the Office also advised that this was not the only case as investigations are ongoing for several other companies.