Highlights | On the ground | Privacy and data protection | Data protection standards

Serbia: Complaints filed against Facebook and Google

By SHARE Foundation (guest author) · January 15, 2020

EDRi member SHARE Foundation has filed complaints to the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection of Serbia against Facebook and Google for their non-compliance with the obligation to appoint representatives in Serbia for data protection issues. In May 2019, before the start of application of the new Serbian Law on Personal Data Protection, SHARE Foundation sent letters to 20 international companies and called upon them to appoint representatives in Serbia, in accordance with the new legal obligations.

Appointing representatives of these companies is not a formality – it is essential to exercising the rights of Serbian citizens prescribed by law. In the current circumstances, companies like Google and Facebook view Serbia, like many other developing countries, as a territory for unregulated exploitation of citizens’ private data, even though Serbia harmonised its rules with the EU Digital Single Market by adopting the new Law on Personal Data Protection. Namely, these companies recognise Serbia as a relevant market, offer their services to citizens of the Republic of Serbia and monitor their activities. In the course of doing business, these companies process a large amount of data of Serbian citizens and make huge profits. On the other hand, the new law guarantees numerous rights to citizens in relation to such data processing, but at the moment it seems that exercising these rights would face many difficulties.

Among other things, these companies do not provide clear contact points thatcitizens can contact – they mostly have application forms available in a foreign language. Experience has shown that such forms are not adequate, not only because they require advanced knowledge of a foreign language by Serbian citizens, but also because this type of communication is mostly done by programs that send generic automated responses.

Although fines under the domestic Law on Personal Data Protection that the Commissioner may impose, in this case 100 000 Serbian dinars (around 940 USD or 850 EUR), wouldn’t have a major impact on the budgets of these gigantic companies, SHARE believes that they would show that the competent authorities of the Republic of Serbia intend to protect its citizens and point out that these companies are not operating in accordance with domestic regulations.

SHARE Foundation

Facebook and Google asked to appoint representatives in Serbia (05.06.2019)

Will Serbia adjust its data protection framework to GDPR? (24.04.2019)

(Contribution by EDRi member SHARE Foundation, Serbia)