Interview with Bajramspahić: Regarding public officials, misuse of the Law is still present

Dina BajramspahićPublic authorities have made progress regarding protection of personal data, nevertheless the tendency towards misuse of the Law that regulates that area is still present. That misuse is mirrored in conceiving data on public officials, as noted by our public policy researcher, Dina Bajramspahić.

In the interview for PR Center regarding Data Protection Day, she stated that since the Law on Personal Data Protection has been adopted in 2008, progress was made, when it comes to following standards in this area.

’’Nevertheless, we should bear in mind that institutions are not the only one obliged to the Law, but also are business companies, legal entities and NGOs. Certain differences are being noticed here’’, Bajramspahić points out.

She estimated that progress has been made regarding protection of the personal data by the public authorities, through shading names and surnames and other personal data for identification of individuals.

”Through misuse of personal data protection principles, we have a certain tendency to cover info on public officials”, Bajramspahić warns.

She points out that many Montenegrin citizens are not familiar with their rights in personal data protection, especially regarding sensitive data which is protected by the system in accordance to the Law.

When it comes to public officials, Bajramspahić said that misuse of the Law is often in practice, pointing out to IA’s request for the biographies of state prosecutors, who applied for the Special prosecutor’s position.

’’We didn’t ask for that info because biographies of those people were interesting to us, but because we wanted to see the documentation based on which the Prosecutorial Council makes decisions. Nevertheless, we didn’t receive the info under the excuse of personal data protection of candidates. This is unacceptable because European Court for Human Rights points out that public officials whose payments are financed from the state budget should be less exposed to the sensitivity of data protection and should be more exposed to critics then common citizens’’, she points out.

‘’On the other hand’’, she added, ‘’there are public authorities that gather personal data to greater extent than it’s legally allowed. ‘’

’’It is necessary to improve surveillance in these cases and control data collecting’’, Bajramspahić says.

When answering our question on the rights that are being violated, regarding personal data protection, Bajramspahić said that the most common example concerning citizens refers to unauthorized data publishing.

’’Citizens have the right to know that their personal data cannot be published without their knowledge. This practice repeats when it comes to media, business companies, and advertising. Additionally, citizen can get insight in data from anyone who collects info on him/her’’, she said.

Institutions dealing with security have special authorities regarding data collecting without citizens’ knowledge and via secret methods, as Bajramspahić pointed out.

‘’This refers especially to those institutions obliged to control data collecting on citizens by two entities, Police administration and National Security Agency. Here we lack in sufficient surveillance of that which these two public entities collect.’’

The most active institution in this area has been Agency for Protection of Personal Data, which has made significant progress since the adoption of the Law. Neverthess, ’’there is still enough room for improvement.’’

’’Government and responsible entities, primarily Agency for Protection of Personal Data must contribute to the greater citizens’ knowledge of their own rights and their practice, which is the only way to discipline institutions, business companies and legal entities in practicing the Law in right manner’’, Bajramspahić said.

Bajramspahić referred that citizens should report abuse of the rights regarding personal data protection to the Agency.

’’Agency is authorized to receive complaints of the citizens and it is obliged to submit its decision on (non)spotted irregularities in timeframe of 60 days as well as to determine the measures for resolving spotted irregularities. In case its decisions are being disrespected, high fines are determined’’, she explains.

While addressing all the challenges awaiting Montenegro, Bajramspahić pointed out that implementation of the Law on Personal Data Protection will be in the EU eyesight, in the time of the accession.

„This way, responsible authorities and citizens will know more regarding the Law’’, she concluded.

Parts of the interview with public policy researcher in IA, Dina Bajramspahić, can be found below:

Courtesy of: PR Center

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