Prague, Aug 26 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman appointed Ivana Janu, former Constitutional Court judge, the new head of the Office for the Protection of Personal Data (UOOU) Wednesday.

Janu, 69, has replaced Igor Nemec, who could not seek re-appointment as UOOU director after completing two terms in office.

Zeman said it will be difficult to regain social prestige for the UOOU in view of its controversial decisions in the past.

As examples he gave the fine the UOOU imposed for the release of the salaries of all employees at the High State Attorney’s Office in Prague two years ago, and the case in the south Bohemian town Pisek where the UOOU banned the release of the lists of local dog owners who avoided paying the compulsory fee, and even of those who paid it duly.

Janu pledged to do her best to meet the expectations of Zeman.

“This office is inconspicuous, but crucial for democracy,” she said.

In the UOOU’s activities, the right to privacy clashed with the right to access to information, which is also fundamental for democracy, Janu said.

“The UOOU should actually guarantee that the interferences in people’s right to the protection of privacy will be fair and well founded,” she added.

Janu was elected to the post by the Senate, the upper house of parliament, in July, that preferred her to another candidate, UOOU inspector Josef Vacula.

Addressing the Senate, Janu said the UOOU was established as a strong independent institution in charge of protecting the right to privacy, and that she considers it necessary to preserve its independence.

She said the UOOU should improve the comprehensibility of the interpretation of the law on personal data protection, and in practice it should respect verdicts given by the Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) and the Constitutional Court (US).

The UOOU was established 15 years ago. Its main task is to prevent the abuse of personal data. To achieve the goal, it is empowered to check public institutions as well as private companies that work with personal data.

The UOOU inspectors can launch administrative proceedings leading to the imposition of fine.

The UOOU may impose a fine of up to 10 million crowns for breach of the law and order the shredding of the gathered data.