Are people’s personal data at risk?

Are people’s personal data at risk?

We hear from people who have been affected by media publications and the minister for Public Administration and Innovation, Milena Harito, Besnik Dervishi, Information and Data Protection Commissioner and Gentian Sala, head of the Audiovisual Media Authority

Tirana, 28 September 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

“I was arrested during a notorious drug raid by police and I ended up having two traumas. The first one in the cell for several days and the second one had to do with what the media said and which shocked everyone that I knew. The result: I had nothing to do with this story. I was released, but I was labeled as a drug trafficker and even today, several years later, I am still labeled as such”.

This is one of the many confessions by different citizens who have faced cases of arrests that have been made public on the media and then released immediately.

The 36 year old from Tirana was in the company of several friends, when someone appeared to be suspected of drug trafficking. But the wave of police arrests seemed to follow a “group therapy”. This way, the young man who worked as a manager in a company, faced undeserved trouble. He says that he lost his job, but especially, he lost his moral integrity.

“Family and friends were worried when they saw my name and footage on the media. Some did judge me, many others believed me. But I had nothing to do with this story”, says the 36 year old man, who now lives in both Tirana and Italy.

But what happened? As in many other cases, police had conducted a drug raid. It often happens that suspects are arrested in bars, homes and streets. The 36 year old was among them. Within a few days, police released him without incriminating him, but he could not lift the stigma of the drug trafficker, as the information spread on the media, which was supposed to promote police work, mentioned him too.

There are many other cases like the case of the 36 year old.

Now, they have started to be more conscious. They demand from the media to remove their names and images from the archive.

But how possible is this?

Due to the evolution of technology, it’s difficult to remove, at least for a long time, the name and the images of a person, from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, AOL, etc.

What’s more, the media claims that the information is official, obtained from police.

Recently, State Police has been more cautious.

The names and the images of the arrested suspects, are given less often.

All of this in the framework of the efforts to protect personal data of Albanian citizens.

But the protection of personal data also includes many other aspects of the privacy of the citizens.

Minister for Public Administration and Innovation, Milena Harito, says that recent technological developments, bring on one side, the growth of instruments that help in the protection of personal data, but on the other hand, it also offers a chance to piracy to find new ways to benefit from technology and cause damages to particular people.

Milena Harito

“Rapid technological development makes us face new challenges, because on one hand we have instruments that help us protect personal data and on the other, piracy has more ways to threaten these data”, Harito says.

“The exertion of constitutional rights by citizens and their protection with high standards and the best legal practices, is not only an institutional obligation, but also a contribution for further democratization of our society, in its path toward European integration”, the minister says.

Besnik Dervishi, Information and Personal Data Protection Commissioner, says that raising the awareness of the citizens in this aspect, still remains a challenge. “It’s important for the citizens to have the right awareness to report violations taken place at their detriment, in order for authorities to do their job and punish the perpetrators”.

Besnik Dervishi

Dervishi suggests that the citizens need more information on the importance that their privacy has and the path which needs to be followed to protect it.

As far as this is concerned and along with the technological changes that are presented, the office that Dervishi heads, is assessing the possibility of the improvement of the law, “to tackle the problem of the protection of personal data with the same philosophy as in developing countries and to better approach the standards and practices used in countries that have an extensive experience in this process”.

Given that misuse of personal data continues to be a problem for Albania, Information and Data Protection Commissioner has also fined over 40 public and private institutions during this year, with values of up to 15 thousand euros, after identifying violations in more than 90 cases.

On the other hand, Gentian Sala, head of the Audiovisual Media Authority, says that the institution that he heads, is engaged to contribute in order to strengthen democratic culture in the country. He says that the domain of the protection of personal data and the right of information, as “a guarantee for a media environment based on the law, technologically development and at the service of the education of the citizens, especially the young generation”.

gentian sala

Sala says that as head of the Audio Visual Media Authority, he has recently signed an agreement with the Information and Data Protection Commissioner.

Under this document, both institutions must draft and revise programs of transparency and the draft code of ethics for audio visual media. Also, sides will propose legal improvements in the domain of the right of information and protection of personal data. They have also decided to encourage the raising of awareness of the public opinion in order to increase sensitivity for the protection of personal data in the domain of audiovisual media. /ibna/