Sunday, 20 April 2014

Labour Ministry will have to change S-Card system

31 January 2013

Prague, Jan 30 (CTK) - The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry must remove the mistakes in the project of electronic social cards (sCards) by the end of June so that it does not violate the law on the protection of personal data, the Personal Protection Data Office (UOOU) said yesterday.

The UOOU launched administrative proceedings over the sCard project and it may impose a fine of up to ten million crowns on the ministry.

"Personal and sensitive data have been handed to a private entity within the project," UOOU head Igor Nemec said.

The ministry should either stop the project, or let the lower house of parliament approve the current state. A special law would be needed to authorise the ministry to hand data of subsidy recipients to the Ceska sporitelna bank.

The ministry said it has been working on an improved version of the project and that it would meet the UOOU's requirements by the set deadline.

The UOOU demanded that the accessibility of the data to other bodies be clarified even before the introduction of the sCard system.

Clear rules for the processing and storage of the data should be set and action to protect the sCard against possible misuse in case of its theft or loss should be defined.

The sCard system was criticised by trade unions, the ombudsman, representatives of the disabled, and opposition but also some coalition MPs.

The opponents said, among others, that the system would complicate the life of the people who are unable to withdraw the money from cash dispensers due to their health incapacity or age.

Ombudsman Pavel Varvarovsky criticised the sCards for having both payment and identification functions.

The ministry argued that the protection of privacy of the card owners is set by the contract with Ceska sporitelna, which has been operating the system, and in ministerial regulation.

Labour Minister Ludmila Muellerova (TOP 09) said previously the ministry will draft broader changes to the laws in January and that she will consult Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) about them.

Muellerova said then she also wants to take privacy protectors' objections into consideration.

Parliament agreed at the end of the year that unemployment and foster care benefits are to be paid also to the recipients who do not have the recently introduced sCards as of January.

The opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) want to scrap the whole project.

($1=19.102 crowns)

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