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Chapter: 

IV. Governance issues

E-government

First launched in January 2007, "www.borger.dk" is the e-Government portal for citizens. It is a single Internet entry point to the public sector's information and e-Services to citizens, regardless of the origin of the public authority. "Borger.dk" results from a merger between the previous "danmark.dk" and "netborger.dk" sites (the former a local eGovernment services portal). The platform is operated in cooperation between State and local authorities. The Citizen portal provides information on public authorities and a common public e-Service channel for citizens. The portal features a range of "self-service" sections, thus allowing citizens to manage their communications with the public sector in a more efficient way.1 The target is for all public sector bodies to integrate their digital information and services for citizens into the portal in 2012 at the latest. It is to be noted that "borger.dk" forms the framework for developing cross-governmental standards and principles of digital service applicable to all authorities.

A new, updated version of "borger.dk" went live in October 2008. It contains the first version of the "My Page" section, which gives a personal overview of one's relation to the public authorities. In addition, a single sign-on solution allows citizens to receive and access information and services from several agencies without having to log on multiple times.2 Further updates were scheduled to take place. Among other things, citizens will gain the opportunity to opt for SMS reminders and to communicate by means of secure emails with the public authorities via "My Page". Several other public self-services will be added, together with new franchises.3

Open government

Other laws regulating the processing of personal information by the public sector include the Public Administration Act of 1985,4 the Publicity and Freedom of Information Act of 1985,5 and the Act on Public Records of 2002.6 These laws set out basic data protection principles and determine which data and governmental records are accessible to the public and which should be kept confidential.7

Other recent factual developments

There is a continuous focus on privacy issues. For example, the Information Technology Security Committee (IT-sikkerhedskomiteen) was established by the Ministry of Science in 2008. In October 2009 it hosted a public event "Privacy in the Information Society" (Privatliv i informationssamfundet) to discuss privacy, biometrics, RFID tags, and social networks.8

Non-government organisations' advocacy work

No specific information has been provided under this section.

International obligations and International cooperation

On 6 January 1972, Denmark ratified the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocol allowing the UN Human Rights Committee to receive and consider communications from individuals.

Denmark is a member of the Council of Europe and has ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data.9 Denmark signed the Convention on Cybercrime on 22 April 2003, and ratified it on 21 June 2005. The Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime, concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems was signed in February 2004, and ratified in June 2005.

In May 2006, a decision on admissibility was taken by ECtHR in a case against Denmark. In a dispute over inheritance, the complainant claimed that it would be a violation of the Act on Processing of Personal Data to exhume his father in order to administer a DNA test. The Court reiterated that the concept of "private life" is a broad term not susceptible to exhaustive definition. It covers the physical and psychological integrity of a person. However, the Court found that it would stretch the reasoning developed in this case law too far to hold in a case like the present one that DNA testing on a corpse constituted interference with the Article 8 rights of the deceased's estate. Consequently, ECtHR found the application inadmissible and partly manifestly ill-founded.10

In relation to the development of international jurisprudence, the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) assessed in relation to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgment in S. and Marper v. UK (4 December 2008) that Denmark could lose a case before ECtHR since Danish legislation was comparable to the UK.11 The Ministry of Justice came to the same conclusion as DIHR. Based on the judgment against the UK, an amendment was put forward in September 2009 limiting the retention of fingerprints, DNA profiles, and DNA samples to ten years for acquitted persons, which is probably still problematic in relation to the ECtHR.12

There has also been a focus on stop and search procedures conducted by the police, especially whether the regulation was in accordance with human rights standards after the ECtHR judgment of Gillan and Quinton v. UK of 12 January 2010.13 It is the assessment of the DIHR that the legal provisions are not adequate and run the risk of being arbitrary. Therefore DIHR recommended that the legal provision in the Act on Police matters (Lov om Politiets Virksomhed) regulating the so-called zones of visitation (visitationszoner) should be amended to avoid any risk of conflict with the newest jurisprudence from ECtHR. The Ministry of Justice issued a statement in March 201014 briefly stating that the minister did not find that the Danish stop and search procedures should be changed by an amendment in legislation.15

Denmark is a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and has adopted the OECD Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data.

Denmark has been a member of the EU since 1973. It ratified the EU Treaty of Lisbon in accordance with Section 19 of the Danish Constitution according to which international agreements can only be entered into with the consent of the Parliament.. The ratification bill was passed on 24 April 2008 by a majority of 90 votes for, 25 against, and no abstentions. Thereby the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (including in particular Articles 7 – Respect for private and family life – and 8 – Protection of personal data – was made legally binding for Denmark from the day the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force (1 December 2009).

Greenland

The original (un-amended) Danish Public and Private Registers Acts of 1978 and Guidelines regarding Notification of Data Processing Bureaus of 1979 continue to apply within Greenland, a self-governing territory. The Danish Data Protection Agency oversees compliance with the law. The 1988 amendments that brought Denmark into compliance with the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data do not apply to Greenland. Furthermore, Greenland is not part of the European Union and therefore has not adopted any of the EU Data Protection legal instruments. Greenland's data protection requirements are much less stringent than those of Denmark and the other member states of the European Union.

Footnotes