IV. Governance issues
No specific information has been provided under this section.
The Parliament approved the Freedom of Information Law in May 1999.1 The law provides for citizens' access to all government records held by State bodies, local self-governing authorities, and certain other institutions, except for classified information, trade secrets, or personal data.2 Section 8 of the Law stipulates that information revealing evidence of one's personality and privacy, especially with regard to race, nationality, membership in political parties and movements, religion, health, sexual life, and property, may not be disclosed without prior written consent by the relevant individual or without authorisation by a special law.3 In 2002, the government rejected a Senate-sponsored amendment to the Law that would have required applicants to pay only for material costs rather than having to pay for the costs associated with searching.4 Since 2006, the applicants may only be required to pay for costs associated with searching in cases of exceptionally extensive searching.5
A 1998 act governs access to environmental information.6 In April 1996, Parliament approved a law that allows any Czech citizen to obtain his or her file created by the Communist-era secret police (StB). Non-citizens are not allowed to access their records. The Interior Ministry holds 60,000 records, but it is estimated that many were destroyed in 1989.
In 2003, the Interior Ministry decided to publish a list of Communist StB secret service collaborators. The Office for the Protection of Personal Data, which offered comments on the original legislation that allowed for the release of the information, stated that such a release would not be in conflict with the law on the protection of personal data.7
No specific information has been provided under this section.
Civil society work
Iuridicum Remedium (IuRe) is an NGO in the Czech Republic specialised in the field of digital rights and privacy.8 Its activities are wide-ranging in scope, covering both lobbying at the stage when laws are being drafted and campaigning against existing and actual threats.
Since April 2007, IuRe has campaigned against the irresponsible use of RFID chips in the new multifunctional municipal cards in Prague (Opencard). IuRe proved that in the initial stage of the project, it was possible to harvest personal data from its chip simply with the knowledge of publicly accessible security key. Since that time, the issuer of the Opencard ceased storing data on the chip, enabling IuRe to concentrate on criticising discrimination against those who wish to use the card anonymously.
In June 2008, IuRe succeeded in proposing significant changes to the proposed Police Act. IuRe helped, for example, to set up stricter rules for police concerning local disturbance of the mobile and computer networks and police legally based access to media in case of emergency. However, campaign activities continue as the Police Act leaves unclear the conditions of use for police CCTVs.9
The Czech Big Brother Awards (organised by Privacy International and IuRe) announced the 2007 winners.10 The Ministry of the Interior received the Lifetime Menace award for having ignored basic citizen privacy protection rights in establishing the National Action Plan of Fighting Terrorism (NAP). The plan also includes the establishment of a national database of biometric data for verification of travel documents. The NAP for 2007 to 2009 period also contains concepts for further spreading of camera systems and for wider access to data, access to location data, and further telecommunication data.11
International obligations and International cooperation
The Czech Republic announced its succession to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to its First Optional Protocol establishing an individual complaint mechanism on 22 February 1993.12
The Czech Republic is a member of the Council of Europe and in 1992 signed and ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which entered into force on 1 January 1993.13 The Czech Republic also signed and ratified the Council of Europe Convention No. 108 for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data14 and its Additional Protocol regarding supervisory authorities and transborder data flows.15 Although the Czech Republic became a signatory to the European Council's Convention on Cybercrime in February 2005, it has not yet ratified the treaty.16
The Czech Republic is also a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It has adopted the OECD Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data.
In April 2010, the Privacy and Data Protection Commissioners' Conference took place in Prague. The OPDP undertook to make an inventory of the projects and campaigns organised or initiated by the European Data Protection Authorities so as to facilitate the exchange of experience and to intensify cooperation between all the data protection authorities.17 The conference was concluded by adopting four resolutions: on use of body scanners on airports, on the planned EU-USA agreement on privacy standards in the police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, on future development of privacy protection, and on common steps towards better awareness and education of young people on European and international level.18
- 1. Act No. 106/1999 Coll., on Free Access to Information.
- 2. "Freedom of Info Clears Last Hurdle," The Prague Post, 19 May 1999.
- 3. Act No. 106/1999 Coll. supra.
- 4. "Czech Cabinet Rejects Legislation Facilitating Access to Information," CTK News Agency, 5 August 2002.
- 5. Act No. 106/1999 Coll., supra at Section 17(1).
- 6. Act No. 123/1998 Coll. on the Right to Information About the Environment.
- 7. "Internet Publication of Czech Communist Era Agents' Names Legal," CTK news agency, 17 March 2003.
- 8. Iuridicum Remedium's Web site, at http://www.iure.org/.
- 9. IuRe, "EDRI Welcomes 5 New Membersâ€, EDRI-Gram - No 3.16, 10 August 2005, available at http://www.edri.org/edrigram/number3.16/newmembers.
- 10. Filip Pospisil, "Czech Republic Big Brother Awards 2007," EDRI-Gram - No 5.24, 19 December 2007, available at http://www.edri.org/edrigram/number5.24/bba-czech-republik.
- 11. Czech Big Brother Awards 2007, in Czech at http://www.slidilove.cz/zpravy/nejvetsi_slidilove_opet_odhaleni.html.
- 12. Czechoslovakia had signed the International Covenant on 7 October 1968 and ratified it on 23 December 1975. It acceded to the Optional Protocol on 12 March 1991. The texts of the Covenant and of its First Optional Protocol are available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/index.htm.
- 13. Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, (ETS No. 105). Text and other relevant information concerning all the Conventions adopted within the Council of Europe are available at http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/ListeTraites.asp?CM=8&CL=ENG.
- 14. Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (ETS No. 108), signed on 8 September 200, ratified on 9 July 2001 and entered into force 1 November 2001.
- 15. Additional Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, regarding Supervisory Authorities and Transborder Data Flows (ETS No. 181), signed on 10 April 2002, ratified on 24 September 2003 and entered into force on 1 July 2004.
- 16. Convention on Cybercrime (ETS No. 185).
- 17. Joint press release of the Chairman of the Article 29 WP and the President of the Office for Personal Data Protection in the Czech Republic within the framework of the European awareness campaign on Internet and minors, supra.
- 18. Minutes from the conference and text of the resolutions are available in Czech at http://www.uoou.cz/uoou.aspx?menu=15&loc=689.