The organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses respects individuals’ rights of privacy based on principles set forth in the Bible. The organization recognizes the necessity of open and frank communication and the collection of personal and sensitive personal data in order to administer to the needs of Jehovah’s Witnesses and accomplish its religious and charitable activity, and the corresponding necessity to maintain confidentiality and ensure that information is adequately protected. (Proverbs 15:22; 25:9) Confidentiality is highly valued.—Proverbs 20:19.
Various countries have enacted data protection laws to ensure individuals’ rights of privacy. The organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses has a longstanding history of respecting privacy rights and maintaining confidentiality, even before the enactment of such data protection laws. The organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses will continue to protect information disclosed to it in harmony with its longstanding practice, now recorded in this policy.
Scope of Application
This policy applies to the entire organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as represented by branch offices located throughout the world.
The organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses handles all personal data in accordance with the following principles:
Personal data will be processed in a fair and lawful manner.
Personal data will be collected, processed, and used only to the extent necessary to fulfill Jehovah’s Witnesses’ religious and charitable purposes.
Personal data will be accurate and kept up to date. Any error will be corrected as soon as possible after the organization becomes aware of it.
Personal data will be kept only for as long as is necessary for the legitimate purpose(s) of the organization.
Due consideration will be given to respect the rights of data subjects.
Appropriate technical and organizational measures will be taken to prevent unauthorized or unlawful disclosure of personal data. All computer-held personal data is held on password protected computers to which only authorized users hold passwords. Offices are locked after office hours and only authorized staff may gain entry.
Personal data will not be transferred between branches unless necessary to accomplish the religious or charitable purposes of the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, to which all Jehovah’s Witnesses have consented by virtue of their free and willing decision to become and identify themselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Rights of the Data Subject
A data subject’s right to the protection of personal and sensitive personal data and to the correction or deletion of personal and sensitive personal data is to be granted according to the practice of Jehovah’s Witnesses set forth in this policy.
Whoever makes a request according to this section must provide sufficient evidence of his identity.
If a data subject requests access to, correction of, or deletion of personal data or sensitive personal data about himself, the organization will fairly consider granting the request by balancing the interests of the individual in gaining access or correcting or deleting data against the legitimate religious interests of the organization, including whether granting the request would endanger the organization’s right to religious freedom and practice.
The organization has an interest in permanently maintaining data regarding an individual’s status as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Deleting such information would unduly infringe on the organization’s religious beliefs and practices.
Right of Appeal
If a person believes that his rights have been infringed, he can appeal to the Branch Committee by means of a written personal letter. The letter must be sent within two weeks of the action that forms the basis of the appeal.