Protection of personal data and privacy
The Data Protection Inspectorate makes sure that people’s private information (personal data) is sufficiently protected. The Inspectorate also ensures that information on the activity of institutions (public information) is sufficiently available. The right to the protection of personal data and the right to public information are constitutional rights. The constitution also grants everybody the right to inquire about the data collected about their person.
Personal data signifies any information that makes it possible to identify a person directly or indirectly: name, picture, fingerprints, family data, place of residence, workplace, etc. Some data are considered sensitive (religious and political affiliations, information on health and sex life, etc).
The law gives people the right to request:
- information on the nature and purpose of the data collected about them and used;
- correction of inaccurate personal data;
- termination of unlawful collection, use and publication of personal data.
Above all, it is up to everyone to ensure the safety of their data. If you keep information pertaining to you carelessly or disclose it yourself, you can harm yourself – from a deluge of spam email to account or identity theft. If your rights have been violated and the violator does not respond to your request, please turn to the Data Protection Inspectorate.
If you seek compensation, apology and repudiation, you need to turn to the county court. Cases of defamation (slander, insult) should also be reported to the county court.
When dealing with a potential crime, please turn to the police: for example in the case of identity theft, unauthorised surveillance, illegal human research or illegal publication of sensitive personal data.
The Personal Data Protection Act does not apply to the collection and use of personal data for personal purposes and within the limits of the private sphere.
Public information comprises the documents, databases etc created by institutions while performing public duties. Access to public information can be restricted only on the basis of law. Information in state or local government institutions might be necessary for a person as well as an enterprise, an organisation, a media publication or a scientific institution.
The availability of public information makes the activity of the state transparent. It ensures more effective control over the exercise of public authority, the performance of public duties, and the use of public money. The Public Information Act is binding to institutions as well as enterprises and other persons governed by private law who perform public duties or use public money. Examples include the provision of social services, private child care institutions, etc.
The availability of public information is ensured in several ways:
- by submitting a request for information (to be answered in 5 working days);
- the institution’s website has a register for incoming and outgoing documents, documents with no restriction on access can be opened by clicking;
- by publishing important information on the institution’s website.
Request for information can be used to ask for information already available at the institution. When requesting an explanation from an institution or drawing attention to a problem, you are dealing with a request for explanation or a memorandum. These are answered within a month.
Restrictions on access to public information have mostly been set for the protection of people’s privacy. The restrictions may also result from other laws. Restriction on access can be imposed on a complete set of documents – for example correspondence with private persons. Restriction on a complete set means that, upon the submission of request for information, the specific document is reviewed to determine if the restriction can indeed be applied.
How to turn to the Data Protection Inspectorate
If your rights concerning public information have been violated (e.g. request for information is not answered), you may turn to the Data Protection Inspectorate with a challenge. You may also use a memorandum to notify the Inspectorate of other issues related to the Public Information Act.