It is no longer a question of whether personal data should be protected or not, it is essential, and many more resources and efforts are necessary for an appropriate implementation of the laws that protect personal data – this is the conclusion of today’s event called “Together for Data Protection” that was held in Europe House in Skopje. The event was organized by the Delegation of the European Union together with the Metamorphosis Foundation, the Personal Data Protection Agency and the Center for Legal Research and Analysis on the occasion of the European Data Protection Day – the 28th of January.

In the era of technology, internet and globalization, protection of personal data is becoming more important each day, remarked the Head of Cooperation in the EU Delegation to North Macedonia, Steffen Hudolin, in his speech.

He referred to the 2015 study of the Cambridge and Stanford universities, which showed that the data of the users of the social media platform Facebook only know more about people than people themselves or their friends who know them.

“Data protection is far more than just collection and misuse of our data. It denotes protection against manipulation, discrimination and transparency. Do we, as users, know which of our personal data is kept where and for which purposes? The field of data protection is important for the EU in the sense that we can shape our economies and boost digital transition with the right legislation and its implementation as well as to raise awareness of the public”, said Hudolin.

He then stated that the Macedonian Personal Data Protection Agency should be involved in all consultations and negotiations with regards to personal data protection and he reminded that the last report of the European Commission about this field in this country applauds the devotion and the work of the Agency, as well as the progress which was achieved in terms of the alignment with the EU regulations and personal data protection.

“Let’s think before we click”, is the message that Hudolin sent on the occasion of the European Data Protection Day.

The Director of the Personal Data Protection Agency of the Republic of North Macedonia (AZLP), Imer Aliu, noted that the adoption of the new Law on Personal Data Protection in 2020 and its entry into force in August 2021 were of utmost importance to this country.

Danche Danilovska Bajdevska, Program Director at Metamorphosis Foundation, photo:

However, with regards to the alignment of the sectoral legislation with the law, Aliu added, there is no significant progress due to the fact that it is not consistently implemented.“We have observed non-compliance with the obligation for the proposers, ministries and other authorities to submit materials, draft laws, by-laws and other regulations that are in any way related to personal data protection to the Agency. Aside from that, another issue is the failure of the ministries and other authorities to act in accordance with the opinions, indications and suggestions of the Agency when it comes to the alignment of the legal solutions and by-laws”, mentioned Aliu.He highlighted that new employment opportunities and additional financial resources are necessary to motivate, retain and enable professional development for the human resources in the agency in order to stop the current staff from leaving, as well as to train new staff.

The director of AZLP said that a new 10-year strategy for personal data protection will be developed in the upcoming three months and it will serve as a guide for the future work of the agency.

All of us, as individuals, representatives of institutions, civic organizations and businesses, should behave more responsibly and foster a culture of privacy protection, remarked the program director of the Metamorphosis Foundation, Danche Danilovska Bajdevska, in her speech.

She underlined that this means being included in shaping the digital agenda and the application of digital technology, as well as a better and more serious approach to the ethical and legal implications carried by digital technology.

“Our message is not to fear digital technology or put up resistance against digitalization. Quite the contrary, we should use digital technology and to be invested in it, to learn from each other about how to use it safely to our advantage. We believe that more resources are necessary in order to advocate for a society where invested and conscientious citizens actively use innovative tools for fulfilling their civic rights and responsibilities. With a larger number of resources and mutual engagement, the goal is for the laws to be implemented appropriately, including the Law on Personal Data Protection, which is an essential benefit to civilization in terms of privacy protection”, pointed Danilovska Bajdevska.

It is undeniable that this is a new subject, even in the EU, and they have been reviewing all methods and approaches to this fundamental human right. There is no second chance for the violation of someone’s privacy, emphasized Lidija Stojkova – Zafirovska, the president of the Executive Board of the Center for Legal Research and Analysis.

She also pointed out that it is important to pay attention to marginalized groups that are most exposed to risks of personal data misuse, and those are most often girls, migrants and journalists.

Stojkova – Zafirovska also referred to the necessity of providing court protection of the personal data and privacy.

“We have reached conclusions and made suggestions on how to advance the specific knowledge of the judges when judging such cases about new trends and rights, but also about the technology that is taking on a new shape. New topics, such as information technology, environmental law, genetic engineering, cloning – are things judges should follow so that they can understand the needs and to ensure justice to the citizens as needed”, said Stojkova – Zafirovska.

A discussion on how to implement the Law on Personal Data Protection in practice and how to get all stakeholders to act together was held, moderated by Mila Josifovska Danilovska from the Metamorphosis Foundation.

Emese Savoia – Keleti, data protection officer in the European External Action Service, mentioned that it is no longer a question of whether personal data should be protected. She explained the work of the Personal Data Protection Office, which offers advice, functions as a controller and reviews various public documents concerning the privacy of the citizens.

Savoia – Keleti represented and elaborated on the EU law on personal data protection.

“There has been an increasing trend of countries who adopt privacy protection laws inspired by the European legislation, which we are very proud of. Of course, we also face challenges, because individuals want to see their data and privacy protected, while businesses recognize that personal data protection gives them competitive value. They know that they have to gain the trust of the users in their services”, said Savoia – Keleti, mentioning that North Macedonia is one of the first countries to have signed and ratified the Personal Data Protection Convention of the Council of Europe.

The danger is rising, she added, advising internet users to be informed and to assess the risks before clicking on anything.

“You should take care not only of your own, but also of the data of others. We should be responsible. It was never about forbidding the use of personal data, but it was about the responsibility of taking into consideration the rules that apply, as well as doing it with particular care and attention. Data privacy is not something nice to have, it is a must to have”, Savoia – Keleti added.

Slobodanka Slavkovska, from the Personal Data Protection Agency, introduced the new web-page created with the support of the European Union, and she talked about the opportunities and functions that will be available there.

Slavkovska reminded the institutions, when adopting draft laws and by-laws, to submit them to the AZLP, because citizens more often than not suffer material damage due to the fact that someone was acting irresponsibly towards their data since the laws somehow made it possible.

“Last year, we had a couple of legal solutions that sparked a negative reaction among the public, but the agency has not been consulted about them”, said Slavkovska.

Vesna Radinovska from Metamorphosis Foundation presented the project “Privacy by Design – Building an inclusive digital ecosystem”. She added that the organization is in touch with the controllers every day, who talk about how difficult the implementation of the law is, mainly due to the lack of resources, but also the inflation, the energy crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Milena Josifovska talked about the projects in the Center for Legal Research and Analysis and she emphasized the important role that the judiciary and public prosecution play in strengthening personal data protection.

Link to the original text: „Заедно за заштита на личните податоци“: Нема втора шанса за повредата на нечија приватност |