Laszlo Majtenyis Presentation

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Laszlo Majtenyis Presentation

  1. 1. László Majtényi Former DP&FOI Commissioner of Hungary majtenyi @ ekint .org <ul><li>Concurring Information R ights in the East -Central European Countries </li></ul><ul><li>Santiago </li></ul>
  2. 2. Freedom of Information – Personal Data Protection <ul><li>Sweden: Act of Freedom of the Press of 1766: E very Swedish citizen has the right to information about official documents. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>British colonies in North America: ”No taxation without representation.” One may perhaps reasonably paraphrase this as: ”No taxation without information on how those taxes are used.” </li></ul>
  3. 3. AMERICAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS &quot;PACT OF SAN JOSE” Article 13. Freedom of Thought and Expression <ul><li>Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression. This right includes freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium of one's choice. </li></ul><ul><li>The Inter-American Court’s Trillium Corporation Case: FOI is one of the Human Rights </li></ul>
  4. 4. European Constitutions <ul><li>“ Old democracies” vs. “new democracies” In Europe </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>No explicit resolution on FOI – declared FOI </li></ul>
  5. 5. Information Philosophy <ul><li>Information philosophy of the party state : </li></ul><ul><li>transparency of the citizens, non transparency of the state </li></ul><ul><li>information philosophy of the Hungarian rule of law revolution -1989 </li></ul><ul><li>Transparency of the state, non transparency of the citizens </li></ul>
  6. 6. Examples from the East Europe an Constitutions <ul><li>Poland </li></ul><ul><li>” (1) A citizen shall have the right to obtain information on the activities of organs of public authority as well as persons discharging public functions… </li></ul><ul><li>(2) The right to obtain information shall ensure access to documents and entry to sittings of collective organs of public authority formed by general elections, with the opportunity to make sound and visual records.” </li></ul><ul><li>The Act on Access to Public Information Act, which was enacted in September 2001 and came into effect in January 2002, gives anyone the right to access to public information (exemptions: official or state secrets, confidential and private information and business secrets). The processor must respond within 14 days. As yet there is not an independent commission or commissioner to enforce the Act. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Examples from the East Europe an Constitutions <ul><li>Romania </li></ul><ul><li>In Romania the Constitution guarantees the right to access information of public interest: </li></ul><ul><li>” A person’s right of access to any information of public interest cannot be restricted. The public authorities, according to their competence, shall be bound to provide for correct information to citizens on public affairs and matters of personal interest…” </li></ul><ul><li>The Law on Free Access to Information of Public Interest was approved in 2001. The public bodies must respond within ten days. There are also exemptions to citizens’ free access. These include, for example, information relating to national security, deliberations of the authorities, personal and business interests, criminal investigations and judicial proceedings. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Examples from the East Europe an Constitutions <ul><li>Slovak Republic </li></ul><ul><li>” State bodies and territorial self-administration bodies are under an obligation to provide information on their activities in an appropriate manner and in the state language.” </li></ul><ul><li>” Everyone has the right to timely and complete information about the state of the environment and the cause and consequences of its condition.”  </li></ul><ul><li>The Act on Free Access to Information was approved in May 2000, enforced on 1 January 2001. The authority must respond within ten days and information shall be provided free of charge with the exception of payment to cover the cost of reproduction or delivery. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Examples from the East Europe an Constitutions <ul><li>Czech Republic </li></ul><ul><li>In the Czech Republic’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms we can read: ”Freedom of expression and the right to information are guaranteed.” </li></ul><ul><li>The Law on Free Access to Information was enacted in May 1999 and came into effect in January 2000. Response must be within 15 days.   </li></ul><ul><li>On 5 August 2004 the Czech Cabinet rejected a Senate-sponsored amendment to the Law on Free Access to Information which would have made access easier. Under the rejected amendment, information could not have been withheld on the grounds of protecting business secrets or personal data. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Examples from the East Europe an Constitutions <ul><li>Albania </li></ul><ul><li>” 1.The right to information is guaranteed. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Everyone has the right, in compliance with law, to get information about the activity of state organs, as well as of persons who exercise state functions.” </li></ul><ul><li>The Law on the Right to Information about Official Documents was enacted in 1999. The authorities must decide in 15 days and respond within 30 days. The Ombudsman is tasked with oversight of the law. ”Implementation of the law has been limited. The Act is not well known and there are a low number of requests.” The OECD report also observed that: ”There are no adequate mechanisms in place to provide full access to information.” </li></ul>
  11. 11. Looking for a balance FOI & DP in Hungary <ul><li>” In the Republic of Hungary everyone has the right to the free declaration of his views and opinions, and has the right of access to information of public interest, and also the freedom to disseminate such information.”  </li></ul><ul><li>Hungary: The first combined DP & FOI Act in Europe </li></ul>
  12. 12. Looking for a balance FOI & DP in Hungary <ul><li>One of the most important aims of the rule of law revolution was to guarantee the right of everyone to exercise control over his or her personal data and at the same time to have access to data of public interest in Hungary. </li></ul><ul><li>„ ‘ personal data’ shall mean any data relating to a specific (identified or identifiable) natural person (hereinafter referred to as ‘data subject’) as well as any conclusion with respect to the data subject which can be inferred from such data. In the course of data processing such data shall be considered to remain personal as long as their relation to the data subject can be restored. An identifiable person is in particular one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, by reference to his name, identification code or to one or more factors specific to his physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity” </li></ul><ul><li>Personal Data Protection (Europe) - Habeas Data (Latin America) </li></ul>
  13. 13. Looking for a balance FOI & DP in Hungary <ul><li>“’ data of public interest’ shall mean any information or knowledge, not falling under the definition of personal data, processed by an organ or person performing a state or local government function or other public function” </li></ul><ul><li>USA (Government in S unshine) vs. Germany (developed data protection). </li></ul>
  14. 19. Principles of the Electronic Freedom of Information Act <ul><li>The principle of proactive disclosure – M andatory homepage maintenance - Publication Schemes </li></ul><ul><li>The protection of freedom of information in its conventional forms </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>The principle of technology independence </li></ul><ul><li>The electronic freedom of information implies the right to access data of public interest by electronic means. The law must not stipulate any one technology or network platform for that access. </li></ul>
  15. 20. Principles of the Electronic Freedom of Information Act <ul><li>The principle of equal opportunity and government subsidy of access </li></ul><ul><li>- public information posted on the web is available free of charge; </li></ul><ul><li>- by mandating the government to ensure access to electronically disclosed public information free of charge for disadvantaged groups </li></ul><ul><li>- maintain an assistance service; by requiring handicapped (example: blind people) access to web sites; </li></ul><ul><li>- requiring the option of accessing information in foreign languages. Public agencies should be required to post their basic information in the languages of Hungary’s ethnic minorities. </li></ul>

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