The debate was organized by the Metamorphosis Foundation as part of the preparation of the Macedonian report for the global “Privacy and human rights” report.
The Metamorphosis Foundation, in cooperation with FOSIM’s Legal program and the Directorate for Personal Data Protection, is organizing the preparation of this report for the third time, together with renowned experts from all the relevant areas.

NGO representatives dealing with new technologies and human rights participated at the debate, as well as civil sector representatives and regulatory bodies, including the Agency for Electronic Communications and the Commission for protection of the right to free access to public information.

After the Directorate for Personal Data Protection presented the basic findings from the draft-report regarding the implementation of the Law on personal data protection up to now, the activities of the NGO sector were also presented, as well as the regular monitoring by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in the Republic of Macedonia and the innovative new initiatives, such as the project Children’s Rights on the Internet – Safe and Protected, and a discussion followed.

Zoran Pandev, the deputy director of the Directorate for Personal Data Protection explained that the right to privacy is a “right to fair and undiscriminating processing of personal data which are inevitably collected, and a citizen’s right to be informed in a way that he finds understandable.”

Katerina Todorovska from ELSA raised the issue about controlling the personal data possessed by the political parties, since there were cases of direct political marketing during the last elections. The Directorate for Personal Data Protection is performing the supervision for which it will provide information upon its completion, which is a practice of this institution.

Antoaneta Ivanova from FEJS, raised the issue about a possible conflict between the Law on free access to information and the new Law on working relations according to which “the employers are not obliged to issue data for paid contributions, etc.” According to the legal expert Neda Korunvoska from FOSIM, the Law on free access to information is basically referring to public data owned by state organs, whereas the citizens have the right to require from the entities that keep their information, such as the funds, to submit them. The Insolvency Law projects the initiation of insolvency proceedings if contributions are not paid within a period of three months, during which this information could also be revealed.

As an important element for resolving the possible conflicts between the laws, it was emphasized that “throughout the world, the privacy of certain persons holding public office is reduced, due to their profession. According to the last opinions of the European Court of Justice, the information provided regarding the consultations for the EU cannot be excluded from the Law on free access, and must not be considered personal.”

Darko Janevski and Jovche Plastinovski from USAID’s  eGov project raised the issues about the nonexistence of privacy policies on most of the Macedonian websites, and about seeking spam-preventing methods.

Aleksandar Nikolov reported that NGO Internet Macedonia has accepted several complaints from citizens who were receiving unsolicited messages sent by operators with the excuse they have no technical possibility for removing them from their lists, and complaints on the old and obsolete measures for technical protection when logging into blog services, which could even facilitate an illegal breach.

Regarding the first type of violations, Violeta Cvetkovska from the Agency for Electronic Communications said that they are conducting procedures for preventing and punishing the abuse of internet for direct marketing, and that she would provide additional information on this.

The global report “Privacy and human rights: International review of the laws and events related to privacy” is published by EPIC      from Washington, USA and Privacy International from London, United Kingdom, in cooperation with organizations from nearly eighty other countries. In addition to being available as a book, the whole text is also available free of charge in digital form.The reports for each country contain information on the legal frameworks and significant events related to personal data protection in the specific period.