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Data Protection Day 2014: Manage Digital Footprint

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The countries of the Western Balkans joined the activities to mark the European Data Protection Day last Tuesday, January 28, 2014. The national bodies for protectioni of personal data organized a number of activities that aimed to emphasize the importance of that issue in the contemporary digital world that we live in.

The Partners for Democratic Change in Serbia (Partners Serbia), the Network of Committees for Human Rights in Serbia (CHRIS), with support by a group of organisations, called on the competent institutions in Serbia to act urgently to set up the proper legal framework for protection of privacy of citizens. They also reminded all holders of personal data that they need to act in accordance with the law and highest international human rights standards.

Partners Serbia and CHRIS noted that this year’s Data Protection Day found Serbia in a situation of inadequate legal protections in the area of data protection. The 2008 Law on Protection of Personal Data is not fully aligned with European Union standards. Also, several laws that cover individual sectors and regulate specific areas of automatic processing of personal data have not been adopted yet.

“In 2013, state institutions didn't pay the necessary attention to the need to improve the legal framework in the areas of security checks, video surveillance and biometrics. Knowing that the drafting process for a new Law on Employment Relations is under way, it needs to regulate the issue of privacy in the workplace, so that legitimate interests of employers can be synchronized with the right of employees and applicants for open positions to protect their privacy”, the NGOs say in a joint public statement.

Partners Serbia and CHRIS add that the citizens of Serbia, in addition to the inadequate legal framework, face illegal processing of their personal data on daily basis. A survey conducted by the two organisations last year showed that significant numbers of handlers of personal data remain unaware of their legal obligations, especially in the area of necessary measures they need to implement to ensure protection of personal data from abuses.

On the European Data Protection Day, the Croatian Agency for Protection of Personal Data organized an “Open Doors” day last Monday, January 27. The "Open Doors" Day allowed the citizens to visit the Agency's premises, get informed about the work of the Agency and learn more about the right to personal data protection as a fundamental human right.

The Agency for Protection of Personal Data presented, at a special ceremony held in the Croatian Sabor (the Parliament) the Privacy Ambassadors for 2014. Singers Gabi Novak, Sandra Bagarić, Maja Vučić, Đani Stipaničev and actor Igor Mešin signed their credentials and were presented with their ambassadorial ribbons.

The Agency states that the newly appointed privacy ambassadors are persons that have demonstrated, throughout their public work and activities, strong social responsibility views and preparedness to put their popularity in service of promotion of basic human rights and values.

The Agency for Protection of Personal Data in Bosnia and Herzegovina marked, for the fifth year in a row, the European Data Protection Day, which it dedicated to promotion of public awareness about protection of personal data and related issues.

At a conference for the media held at the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Agency presented the report of its work and activities in 2013. The Agency was also visited by the members of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Rights of Children, Youth, Immigration, Refugees, Asylum and Ethics. The Agency and the Committee share a number of competencies in the ares of constitutionally guaranteed human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Directorate for Personal Data Protection of the Republic of Macedonia presented, at a National Conference, the results of the open competition "Privacy is Mine, Though I am a Child". The contest invited elementary and high school students to send their literary and arts works that helped raise the awareness about possible abuses of personal data and the need to protect privacy.

The National Conference was organized to present the results of the "Sustainable system for continuous primary and secondary education in the principles of protection of personal data", funded by the European Union. The Directorate also promoted the Promotion of the Handbook for teachers to study the protection of personal data in primary and secondary education.

The Data Protection Day was marked in Kosovo with a national conference "My Privacy", organized by the National Agency for Data Protection of Kosovo. The head of the Agency, Ruzhdi Jashari emphasized that most abuses of personal data were registered in the area of aggressive marketing campaigns, especially in the telecommunications sector..

Privacy Day was marked in Albania with a national conference which concluded that Albanian citizens are not aware enough about the their personal data that shouldn't be made public because of danger of their abuse to harm personal dignity.

“Our tradition, in fact, leaves much to desire. Citizens should be more aware for their private life, since there is a law or an authority that protects them”, stated Flora Çabej, Albanian Commissioner for protection of personal data.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided, on April 26, 2006, to declare January 28 the Data Protection Day, to commemorate the opening for signatures of Convention 108 of CoE for the Protection of Individuals with regard to automated processing of personal data.
Today, the Data Protection Day is observed all over the world, and it is known outside Europe as "Privacy Day”.

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