The thin line between personal data protection and access to public information

These and other questions were discussed on July 23, during a round table on the topic "personal data protection in Ukraine: challenges and prospects", which was held at the Ukrainian Catholic University. The event was attended by the activist of the NGO "Community Development", the lawyer Tetyana Panasenko.

Round table organised by the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine and the Directorate General of the Council of Europe jointly with the Secretariat of the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for human rights and Centre for the rule of law UCCh, was held in the framework of their joint programme of the Council of Europe and the European Union "Strengthening information society in Ukraine". The keynote speaker of the roundtable was Parliament Commissioner for human rights Valeria Lutkovska. That's why most of the issues of personal data protection in Ukraine and access to public information were addressed to her. Especially informative for the attendees was the answer to the question of the activist of the NGO "Community Development" Tetiana Panasenko:

"I was interested in the position of experts, in particular the Ombudsman, on the following question: Borys Filatov wrote a request for the name of Mikheil Saakashvili with a request to provide information about his place of residence and registration. Actually, what was supposed to be the answer and how to interpret such information - protection of personal data (place of residence of a person) or the access to public information (as Saakashvili is a public official or a public figure)".

The answer was ambiguous. First, a representative of the Commissioner for personal data protection Markiyan Bem reported that the inquiry about the residence of officials is not related to the official duties, so this information is confidential. However, the Ombudsman Valeria Lutkovska told under what conditions the employee must provide the answer. An important factor in this case is the public interest: if the person who sends a request explains why the society wants to know where the official lives, then such dates may be open to public. In this case, if the Deputy Filatov wants to get information out of curiosity – the question will not be considered as the access to public information, if he will justify why there is a public interest – then there will be a need to provide the answer.

To understand all the legal aspects of this issue will be possible during the training course "School of personal data protection. Short course duration is 2-3 days, it is planed to spend on the basis of UCCh with a view of deepening knowledges in the field of personal data protection, study of international experience, the Ukrainian legislation on personal data protection.