HFHR’s comments on the amendment to the Telecommunications Act
As a party invited to the additional open consultations regarding the amendment announced by the Ministry of Administration and Digitization the HFHR has put forward its comments on the amendment to the Telecommunications Act.
According to the Foundation, the current law on the retention of telecommunications data requires urgent legislative changes. The legislation lacks adequate safeguards against arbitrary interference of administrative authorities with the sphere of such freedoms as the right to privacy, protection of informational autonomy of individuals and the freedom of communication.
The draft amendment provides for the shortening of the data retention period from 24 to 12 months. To justify this modification the legislator invoked the ‘analyses of the use of retained data’. However, no mention was made on where these analyses come from. The draft also provides that the retained data may be used exclusively for the purposes of criminal proceedings, thus prohibiting their utilisation, for instance, in divorce cases.
Still, the HFHR believes that a more far-reaching legislative change is needed. For instance, it is necessary to review a category of entities authorised to obtain telecommunications data. The Foundation calls to carry out comprehensive studies and expert research, whose findings should be made publicly available, prior to making such a change.
The HFHR also urges that access to the retained data should be available only in cases of the most serious felonies. ‘The best solution would be to develop an exhaustive list of serious crimes, separately for each entity authorised to use the retained data’, reads the statement.
In addition, the Foundation is of the opinion that an external control mechanism must be put in place to supervise access to and use of the retained data. Also, the HFHR calls to impose the requirement of mandatory destruction of data by the authorised entities once the obtained data are no longer needed for the purpose for which they have been acquired.