Podgorica, 18 July 2017 – “Data protection is crucial to the life of each individual, as well as to democracy, especially when it comes to transnational democracies,” it was announced during a panel discussion on data protection, organised by the EU Info Centre, in cooperation with the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information.

Aleksa Ivanovic, a member of the Council of the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information, said that the most famous transnational democracy, and perhaps the only one, is the European Union.

“There can be no free society or democracy if the integrity of each citizen is not respected,” said Ivanovic. The agency, as he said, is not able to work alone due to the necessity of raising public awareness about protection of citizens’ data.

“We need to talk to people and institutions, which is the first step in data protection,” concluded Ivanovic.

Data protection laws have been applied in Germany for the past 44 years, explained the German Ambassador to Montenegro, Hans Günther Walter Mattern. He said that 20 years ago neither the activities of the secret services, nor the necessity for that service to be so active were publicly discussed.

“There are not very many public CCTV cameras in Montenegro, but in other countries, wherever you go, you see a camera, and that was unthinkable 20 years ago,” said Mattern.

Mattern assessed that this is acceptable today. “Today people want this, because they think that life is safer for them with it,” Mattern said adding that when it comes to data protection, institutions in Germany are working on education, explaining that people should consider further about whether they want to protect their personal data.

The head of Interpol in Montenegro, Dejan Djurovic, said that most inquests in Montenegro have an international character, especially when it comes to serious and organised crime.

Djurovic explained that Interpol’s red warrants contain all the subjects’ personal data and that is the strongest tool in searching for criminals.

“If we want to issue a warrant on Interpol’s website, we have to satisfy all the defined conditions, and above all those regarding protection of personal data, because we use personal data for certain purposes,” explained Djurovic.

He added that, in most cases, this data is collected without the knowledge of the person it concerns, which the law allows, but this also imposes an obligation to use this data extremely restrictively and only for the purpose for which it was collected.

Milan Radovic from the Civic Alliance stressed that the state must show that data protection is its priority and that all data collected in an illegal way must be destroyed.

Radovic assessed that there are problems in data protection, so institutions have to work to improve this area.

“This issue needs to be resolved systematically and the right to privacy should be a priority,” Radovic concluded.