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Position No. 1/2001 - Publication of the names of debtors


April 2001

As regards the publication of names of natural or legal persons that have not paid the duties or fines imposed on them by effective administrative decisions, in view of the Act No. 101/2000 Coll. on Personal Data Protection and on the Amendment of Certain Other Laws, as amended by the Act No. 227/2000 Coll. (hereinafter referred to as "law"), the Office for Personal Data Protection has taken the following position:

The Office for Personal Data Protection (hereinafter referred to as "Office") has expressed its opinion on the given subject inter alia also in connection with the ongoing judicial proceedings in which a citizen is petitioning the court to protect his right from unauthorised publication.

The position of the Office stems above all from Article 10, Para. 3 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms, which guarantees the right of every subject of data to be protected from unauthorised publication of data related to their person. We believe that personal data may be made public only with the permission of their subject. This opinion is grounded in particular in the following provisions of the law:

  1. The definition of the term "publicised personal data", given in Article 4, Para.1 of the law, includes also a list of means by which the act of publication may be performed without contravening the principles of personal data protection, stipulated by the law.

  2. Although the law does not contain any concrete provisions which would authorise the administrator or processor of personal data to publish them, it is evident from the wording of Article 4, letter e) of the law that the processing of personal data is meant to include also their publication.

  3. The law quoted above, especially its Article 5, also stipulates the rights and responsibilities of the administrator in the processing of personal data. In this context, the law imposes a number of obligations on the administrator, particularly in paragraph 2 which establishes the principle that personal data may be processed only with the consent of the subject of the data. The same provision contains also exceptions from this rule, but, in our opinion, none of these exceptions applies to the case in question.

What may be said generally about the issue is that the Office views the publication of the names of debtors as an exercise of undue pressure which contravenes also other provisions of Article 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms. We see the publication of personal data in connection with incurred debts as an inadmissible encroachment on the privacy of the individual, since the publication of data which have been acquired in a relation governed by private law may damage the person's reputation in many other relations, both in the private and public law sphere.



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