As of 1st January 2012, the Hungarian lawmaker abolished the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, and prematurely terminated the mandate of the incumbent Commissioner. The European Commission has launched accelerated infringement proceedings against Hungary regarding the case. In his article the author, the former data protection commissioner, describes the status, operation and functions of the abolished institution and the plans submitted by himself in 2011 with the goal of reforming the data protection supervision of the country. The author then provides the reader with a brief overview of the constitutional changes in Hungary in the year of 2011, describes the new National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information set up by the lawmaker, and summarizes the steps taken by the Commission in the infringement procedure. The author argues, that setting up the new authority while prematurely abolishing the old one was a measure that was in breach of the requirements for independence of national data protection authorities as set out by Directive 95/46/EC.
- Data Protection
- Supervisory Authority
- Data Protection Authority
- Parliamentary Commissioner
- National Central Bank
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Act No. LXIII of 1992 on the protection of personal data and the publicity of data of public interest.
See Colin J. Bennett 2002.
http://www.parlament.hu/biz/aeb/info/adatvedelmi_biztos.pdf [in Hungarian].
In my comments on the draft, I proposed a maximum fine of 350,000 Euros. However, my proposal was not accepted.
Indeed, on the 2nd April 2012 the Parliament passed an amendment of the new data protection act, addressing the issue of the financial statement described above.
Ironically, this could mean that the Agency set up contrary to EU law would be even strengthened as a result of EU intervention.
The reason for this is that wages of civil servants of the “National Authority” have been reduced significantly in comparison with the staff of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights.
On 7th March 2012, the infringement procedure entered into its second stage, as the Commission sent its reasoned opinion to the Hungarian Government (see http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/12/165&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en). On 30th March 2012, the Hungarian Government answered the reasoned opinion (http://index.hu/belfold/2012/03/30/ismet_valaszolt_a_kormany_brusszelnek/) [in Hungarian]; the letter of the Government is not yet public.
Colin J Bennett. 2002. The data protection authority: Regulator, ombudsman, educator or campaigner?. International Conference of Data Protection Commissioners, Cardiff, September 9–11, 2002. http://web.uvic.ca:8080/polisci/bennett/pdf/cardiff.pdf
Greenleaf, G. 2012. Independence of data privacy authorities (Part I): International standards. Computer, Law and Security 28: 3–13.
Schütz, P. 2012. Data protection authorities as a new regulatory approach. In European data protection: In good health? ed. S. Gutwirth et al., 125–142. Dordrecht: Springer.
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Jóri, A. (2013). The End of Independent Data Protection Supervision in Hungary – A Case Study. In: Gutwirth, S., Leenes, R., de Hert, P., Poullet, Y. (eds) European Data Protection: Coming of Age. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-5170-5_18
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Print ISBN: 978-94-007-5184-2
Online ISBN: 978-94-007-5170-5