Is Our Personal Information Legally Protected?

Author: Adnan Salkić, Doctoral student at the Faculty of Law, University of Mostar

How often do we give our personal information, such as our first and last name, address, social security number or copies of personal documents containing this information away in order to exercise a right or fulfill an obligation? We frequently provide them automatically, without considering whether the person requesting them has the legal authority to do so, and without being informed of the purpose, manner, and duration for which our data will be used. Even when we are aware that our data is being collected and used in ways that go beyond what is reasonable, many of us are unsure what we can do to protect ourselves. Personal data is exchanged in all aspects of business and private life, including education, employment, medical treatment, opening bank accounts, making payments, communicating via social media, and so on. Data is exchanged in both the real and virtual worlds, and it is the latter, thanks to the proliferation of new information and communication technologies, that has advanced the speed, simplicity, and widespread adoption of electronic data exchange to previously unimaginable levels.

With the entry into force of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina has committed to harmonizing its personal data protection legislation with Community law and other European and international privacy legislation. Individuals must be aware that privacy protection is a human right guaranteed by international conventions as well as domestic constitutional and legal provisions, and that protection mechanisms are available to them if they suspect that their personal data is being processed illegally. Those who collect and process personal data, on the other hand, must be aware of the basic principles of personal data processing and their obligations in that procedure, as well as the fact that if these obligations are not met, misdemeanor proceedings can be initiated against them and fines imposed. It is also critical for society to understand that the right to privacy does not have absolute precedence over other rights, such as the right to freedom of expression and the freedom to receive and impart information and ideas, because the European Convention on Human Rights requires public authorities not to interfere with the right to respect for private and family life, unless such interference is prescribed by Law.

The processing of personal data in our country is largely determined by the Personal Data Protection Act. The intent of the Act is to ensure that all persons, regardless of citizenship or residence, have the right to privacy and the protection of their personal data on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina when collecting, processing, and using this data.

The term “private life,” according to the European Court of Human Rights, is broad and cannot be fully defined. It would be too restricting to confine this concept to a “inner circle” in which an individual can live his personal life as he pleases, effectively isolating him from the outside world that is not included in that circle. Respect for private life must, to some extent, include the right to form and maintain relationships with other people. Because the concept of private life is so broad, Bosnia and Herzegovina faces a significant challenge in ensuring the protection of the right to privacy and the protection of personal data. Regardless of the fact that the basic legislation personal data protection is largely in line with European standards, implementing these standards will necessitate a serious approach to the issue not only by the Personal Data Protection Agency, but also by all data processors. Data are processed, as well as those that may indicate improper use of personal data, such as the media, NGOs, or trade unions. The legal basis for public authorities’ processing of personal data should be more clearly defined to avoid doubts about the legality of processing, and the Law on Freedom of Access to Public Information should include provisions relating to the use of modern communication technologies, as it cannot be denied that the internet is perhaps the most convenient way to distribute information of public interest.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply