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III. Privacy issues

Data protection framework

In the past, a special law regulating relations connected with personal secrecy did not exist. The adoption of the Law on Personal Secrecy by the State Great Hural (the Parliament) in 1995 therefore was a novelty in the legal practice of Mongolia, attesting to the legalization of the protection of human rights, honor and reputation. With this law a significant step forward has been made in the direction of guaranteeing human rights and freedoms and realization of the concept that in settling civil suits and disputes the courts shall not apply legislation that contradicts the Constitution, the general foundations of the Civil Code of Mongolia, and any decisions that set the norms pertaining to State administration.1

The Law on Personal Secrecy (Privacy Law) of Mongolia defined the right in more detail, and categorized it as the following five types: secrecy of correspondence; secrecy of health information; secrecy of property; secrecy of family; and other secrecy, which is defined by laws.2 Aimed at protecting human rights, honor and dignity, this law includes within personal secrecy any information, documentation and material object defined by the pertinent laws of Mongolia as secret. The significance of determining the types of personal secrecy and the grounds and procedure for making it public in the law is twofold. First, it establishes that information pertaining to human health, property, correspondence and family is secret. Second, it creates a legal basis for revealing such data in cases when this is unavoidable for reasons of national security, national defense, public health and legal interests. This law also establishes the right of citizens to sue anyone who divulges their personal secrets.3

According to the Privacy Law, the government should also protect citizens' secrets in accordance with procedures and on grounds determined by law.4 Only officials of authorized state organizations have access to personal data of citizens that is kept in accordance with procedures and on grounds determined by law. In addition, the law prohibits revealing a person's private information that was gained in accordance with procedures and on grounds determined by law. According to the Privacy Law, the court will fine a person who breaks the law and reveals a person's private data in an unauthorized manner.5

The National Program for Improving Human Rights was approved on October 24, 2003. The goals of the program were: make the Privacy Law more distinct; develop an information list that contains citizens' secrecy, family secrecy, correspondence secrecy, health secrecy, property secrecy, etc.; conduct training for officials dealing with citizens' secrecy who are employed at all types of organizations including public, private, and civil society organizations; and raise responsibility of the officials by obliging them to take an oath, etc.6

About 20 laws, such as Health Law, Donors Law, Insurance Law, and Tax Law, were brought to conformity with the Privacy Law. Further, the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure incorporate detailed provisions guaranteeing the security of privacy. The criminal legal protection against the violation of individuals' privacy was established in Article 187 of the Criminal Code entitled "Crimes against the citizens' political and other rights and freedoms." Violations of privacy imply the legal liability (e.g. criminal, administrative, material, etc.) of those who unlawfully cause any of the following: violation of the legislation by the intelligence activities;8 violation of the privacy of correspondence;9 disclosure of private secrets;10 and violation of home.11

If a person violates the Criminal Code, courts can impose upon him a penalty such as fine, enforcing to work, arresting three to six months, and imprisoning up to three years. According to the Criminal Code, a person who illegally obtains computer data will face criminal penalty.12