Journalists should turn to the Prosecutor over snooping questions from Regions Party
Director of the Media Law Institute, Taras Shevchenko is clear in his response to the report in Ukrainska Pravda that members of the Party of the Regions are gathering confidential information about journalists and their publications. A law recently passed increasing criminal liability envisages terms of imprisonment or a fine for collecting confidential information.
“Recently the Party of the Regions, together with other Verkhovna Rada Deputies, passed a law on increasing criminal liability for collecting confidential information about a person. The Media Law Institute came out against this law and we called on the President to veto it. Unfortunately President Yanukovych signed it. According to that law, if it is deemed that damage from the gathering of confidential information is significant, this is punishable by a fine or corrective work”.
Taras Shevchenko adds that if the information which the Party of the Regions is gathering contains people’s first and last names, then all the data linked to specific people automatically becomes information which, in accordance with the Law on Personal Data Protection, should be regarded as a database. This, he stresses, is pursuant to the law which members of the Party of the Regions signed.
“That means that such a database should be registered with the relevant State body. The Regulations for registering such databases were recently approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. You can submit an information request asking whether such a database has been registered. I imagine it hasn’t.”
Taras Shevchenko repeats the comment made by the author of yesterday’s article, that according to this law it is categorically prohibited to gather information concerning party affiliation. Such information can only be obtained when applying for work in certain cases, for which there is an exception in the law. “However overall for a database it is against the law to gather such information. And another thing, in gathering information fro inclusion in a database you must have a person’s consent. Such consent is clearly not asked for by the Party of the Regions.”
He stresses that if a media outlet or journalists know that information about them is being unlawfully collected, they can turn to the body in charge of protecting personal data, asking it to defend their rights. Or, referring to the Criminal Code, they can inform the Prosecutor that confidential information about them is being gathered, and demand an investigation.
Telekritika is seeking comment from Olena Bondarenko, whose name is on the letters sent around.