Archive for January 5th, 2011


Data Protection Ukraine

January 5, 2011

Well dear readers, 1st January brought into effect a very large number of laws and regulations in Ukraine.

Amongst these was the law relating to data protection.

For most Europeans, data protection ranks very highly and in enshrined by law in almost every sovereign state within the EU, notwithstanding EU data protection and human rights legislation as well.

Now many human rights activists lobby long and hard for data protection, privacy and freedoms.  Here of course they face a quandary where  freedom of speech and freedom of the media come up against the freedom and privacy of the individual the press may be reporting about.  So which side do you take as a human rights activist?

Ukraine human rights organizations urged Pres Viktor Yanukovych to postpone the enactment of the law, and the Helsinki group called it “a significant step in building totalitarianism in Ukraine.”

Helsinki group executive director Volodymyr Yavorsky says the law ties the hands of journalists in the first case. The law vaguely defines the term “personal data,” allowing to treat as such any information which makes it possible to identify a person, the BBC quotes Yavorsky as saying.

“The European law has it that the media can disseminate any personal information about a public person when demanded by the society. However, now any personal information about the president or any other public figure cannot be publicized in Ukraine as their consent will be needed, the human rights activist stresses.

Meanwhile, the authors of the law, including the justice ministry, say that by enacting the law Ukraine will adapt its legislation to European standards. They also remind that Ukraine had taken on a commitment to ratify the European convention on the protection of personal data.

Importantly, the new law obliges companies of all forms of ownership to set up and register with the state their databases of personal information.

The law also rules to create a state agency on the protection of personal information which will be allowed unhindered access to any offices where personal data is stored or processed.

Hmmm – The recent Hungarian and Italian media laws anyone?  They go as far as seemingly tempering even written opinion such as this blog.  Ukraine is nowhere near that level of possible media manipulation, at least legislatively, as recently passed in those nations who both happen to be EU members.

It is also true that Ukraine does need data protection laws as they did not exist until a few days ago and any closer integration with the EU would require it to have such laws.  In fact, I seem to recall, possibly wrongly, this law was known as the 404 law……not because 404 is the error reporting on your screen at a blocked/banned/faulty link to a web page, but because it was supported by 404 MPs in the RADA.

In case you are wondering, there are only 450 MPs in the RADA which means this got almost unanimous, cross party support……and is probably the most unanimously” in favour” law to be passed I can remember ever getting through the RADA in my many years here.

We will have to wait for some “Stated Cases” under this law to see how it will be implemented and whether the concerns of the Helsinki Group will be unfounded or not.

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