Slovenia : Draft Police Act endangers privacy
The draft of new Police Act has raised a lot of criticism in the last days
from privacy activists and legal experts on its broad encroachment upon
citizens’ right to privacy, granted by the Slovenian Constitution. Through
the suggested act, the Slovenian government grants more power to the police,
using terrorism, the Schengen treaty and recent serious crimes as a handy
The Minister for Interior Affairs replied that changes to the Police
Act were inevitable due to demands of the Schengen treaty. Experts agree
that the Police Act should recieve some new provisions if Slovenia wants to
fully enter the Schengen regime, however, such disproportionate and overall
measures are not required by the Schengen treaty.
Goran Klemencic from the Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security says that
the draft represents an unconstitutional and dangerous attempt to broaden
police powers. Similar opinions came from the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana
and some privacy advocates.
The draft provides for concealed collection of personal data without court
warrant and enables interpretation that allows targeted and continuous
surveillance. Targeted data collection would include financial and welfare
data, lists of co-passengers and relations, data about vehicle and luggage
etc. And all this for individuals as well that might commit a crime
somewhere in the future. To add some more oil on the fire, the
decision-making for approving these invasive measures would not be granted
to a court or public prosecutor, but to the police itself, namely to the
Head of Criminal Police.
The Minister for Interior Affairs, Dragutin Mate, responded in an interview
for national television. His reaction showed that the draft Police Act might
not be sent to the Parliament in the current form because of the numerous
criticisms. However, in his opinion, this is not an invasion to privacy, it
is “just collecting some data at the moment when an individual’s data are
entered into the Schengen database and when the respective individual is
randomly stopped by the police inside the country or at the border […] The
data includes accurate destination, reason for stopping and of course all
the data about how this individual travels”. According to Mr. Mate, this
complies with article 99 of Schengen treaty. This might be true but he did
not list all the data to be collected according to the draft act. The latter
includes “targeted data collection”; “discreet collection”; so called
“serious suspicion” (which is not defined); “collection of personal data
from other subjects”; family, financial and welfare data etc. The
interpretation would therefore also allow gathering of telecommunications
traffic and location data from telcos and ISPs (“collection of personal data
from other subjects”), maybe even personal data gathered by employers.
Moreover, the draft does not provide for an afterward notification to the
individual that he or she was a subject of police surveillance.
According to the draft, the police could “randomly” stop an individual
(following a suspicion that he or she might commit a crime somewhere in the
future) and gather the most private data about him or her, including the
family and co-passengers that would be an “excellent” accessory for police
to build the social networks.
These disproportionate and invasive measures included in the draft of
the Police Act may go well together with the Data Retention Directive that
was passed by the European Parliament in December 2005. Seeing “the big
picture”, some are asking where Slovenia is heading. Is it really to become
a police country?
The critics might have been successful. The Minister for Interior Affairs
later revealed that “they will most likely include judicial supervision”
over measures that invade individual’s constitutional rights. However, it is
incredible how such totalitarian solutions even managed to get a place
inside an official draft .
Draft of the new Police Act – limiting privacy and more power for the
police? (only in Slovenian, 19.3.2006)
Will police invade the privacy? (only in Slovenian, 17.3.2006)
Ministry does not want a police country (only in Slovenian, 18.3.2006)
(Contribution by Aljaz Marn, EDRI observer, privacyblog.net, Slovenia)