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Have the SNS had a database of citizens in the campaign

pescanik sns teelfonIn the campaign before the local elections in 2018, many citizens complained, through social networks, that they received calls from the headquarters of the "Aleksandar Vucic List" headquarters on mobile phones. One such case, the call of the journalist of the Istinomer Milki Domanovic, was recorded and published. TS associate Zlatko Minic also received a call, after which he tried to determine who really called him, from which number, whether the SNS had a database with citizens' personal data and from whom information was obtained.

All the calls were typical, "callers", with more or less knowledge, they represented the data they were prepared, mostly unprepared for improvisation, but willing to lie. So it could be felt that Sinisa Mali and Goran Vesic are not candidates for councilors, but that Aleksandar Vucic is, although he will not be the mayor, that Slavija was rebuilt, "Belgrade On Water” was made, that the SNS "gave a lot of money to local governments" "opened factories, 20,000 jobs".

If the one who was called and identified by name, was interested in the fact that the "list of Aleksandar Vucic" knows his name, the mobile phone number and the municipality where he lives, the answer was also typical - "I have it on the computer."

When I learned that my electoral staff "on the computer" has me, colleague Domanovic, as well as the numbers of all those who shared similar experiences on Facebook and Twitter, I have concluded that this reminds us of collecting and defining data about a person without a legal basis and without the consent of the processed personality. Therefore, I addressed the Commissioner for information of public importance and the protection of personal data and filed an application. The idea was to encourage the Commissioner to monitor the implementation of the law and determine whether the SNS, by law, set up a database and obtained data from the MTS, whose subscriber I was.

I got a "principle answer" that does not prejudge any decision in the supervisory process. I am informed, however, on the procedure prescribed by law. Although this was not my first intention, I started the route that the Commissioner directed me.

The law says: if I suspect that someone is processing information about me, I can ask him to tell me what kind of information he has. The first correspondent was sent by post to the SNS headquarters. I explained who and when he called, on whose behalf, I suspected that they had a database in which are my number and me. I asked for an explanation whether the SNS, its electoral headquarters or election coalition processed information about me, what information, whatsoever, whatsoever, and everything that the applicable law prescribes, which means that I asked them to allow me to inspect the data and issue a copy.

Considering that the person who called claimed that has the number of my mobile phone in the computer, but with whom I signed a contract with a majority state-owned operator, I wanted to check that the SNS election headquarters got data from Telekom, i.e. from MTS.

So I sent two requests to Telekom. In the first I asked them whether they provided the SNS with information about their users, including myself. In the second, I asked to find out the hidden number from which I received the call. In the event that they can not tell me who actually called me, I wanted an explanation which prevented them from notifying me, and in that case they would have conducted a case before me in front of the Commissioner against an unfamiliar subscriber.

Soon there was a response from the MTS Directorate for Private Customers dated April 20. They essentially stated that my number was not publicly available, that ownership information, location, subscriber number and call listing were not available to third parties and that Telekom guarantees the confidentiality of personal data.

As for asking me to find out who owns the number from which I was called, they replied that they did not offer it "as a commercial service," but "it is only possible if the existence of harassment or malicious calls and messages is detected". And users have the ability to file a bug report.

In the meantime, since the SNS did not respond to the request, I wrote a complaint to the Commissioner. In July, the Commissioner issued a decision ordering the SNS to decide on my initial request.

From the explanation it can be seen that the SNS communicated with the Commissioner through attorney Dragan Ivanovic, who responded to the appeal on their behalf. In the answer, the lawyer stated that the SNS does not have a database of personal data of citizens, and so with my data, that I did not provide any evidence that a "certain" SNS was calling from an unidentified number. And since I did not provide evidence, the lawyer concluded, "in a lousy" way, I made a falsehood in the complaint to the Commissioner. Therefore, the appeal should be rejected, the lawyer said.

After the lawyer claimed that the SNS had no basis, he concluded that then it was not a data handler, so it did not have an obligation to respond to the request. In addition, as the MTS announced that my data was not shared or publicly available, the SNS "could not in any way" give me a call because personal information about me and my phone number could not be known to it.

Finally, the lawyer suggested that I be punished because I complained: "The applicant's unfounded allegations clearly indicate that the appeal is politically motivated to show the public that it is a foreigner who violates the law, although (the party, for example) acts conscientiously, strictly adhering to the regulations of the Republic of Serbia ". Therefore, the lawyer proposes that the appeal be dismissed as incomplete or dismissed as unfounded, and that the Commissioner “shall oblige the appellant to reimburse the appellate proceeding of the Serbian Progressive Party".

The Commissioner, however, made a decision that the SNS should respond to the request. A month later, from the lawyer Ivanovic's office, I really received a letter in which he informed me that the SNS does not possess or process any information that relates to me, so it can not even allow me to inspect and copy them.

At that moment, I was faced with the following facts or at least claims:

  1. MTS has not given SNS my phone number;
  2. Someone called me and introduced me to call on behalf of the SNS and my number on the computer;
  3. The SNS has no information about me or anyone else or there is no database.

This could mean:

  1. someone has misrepresented himself;
  2. The SNS does not have a database NOW, but it owned it at the time the call was sent;
  3. On behalf of the SNS, I was called by a marking agency or some other (legal) person who was engaged by the party at the time of the election campaign, who owns or owned a database.

or even that

d. SNS is lying

or that

e. the data has not been submitted by the MTS, but by another legal entity or state authority.

I started from point a). If someone has misrepresented himself, who knows what he really wanted and

why he had my phone number. This question caused anxiety, which is the basis for me to turn to the MTS again.

I delivered a new letter titled "Report of harassment" to them at the end of August. I asked to find out who owns the number from which I was called because the SNS claims they did not call me. I explained why there is a legal basis for this (Article 116 of the Law on Electronic Communications), and for what reason I experienced harassment, I concluded that "the conditions have been met that Telekom Serbia will provide me with information about the natural or legal person to whom it is registered, that is to say, at the moment of the call he was registered, a hidden number.” Also, I asked for information about the legal or natural person who paid the cost of the call that was sent to me.

From the note on the form I reported harassment; I learned that "Telekom Serbia will take all measures to prevent malicious / harassing calls in accordance with Article 116 of the Electronic Communications Act". And that article, prescribes that the operator, if he finds that a malicious or disturbing call is sent from his subscriber's number, is obliged to send a warning to that subscriber, that is, in the case of re-harassment, take other appropriate measures to prevent further harassment. If it is not called from their number, it will be forwarded to the other operator the application in order to do something in the manner described.

Since I did not receive an answer for four weeks, I reminded Telekom on my request by mail. The next day, I received an SMS informing me that it is necessary that "harassment is not older than a month", that I must specify the date when there was disturbance and the time when the calls were received, to "make a check again" and re-submit the application again. I said that I did not intend to do it, because I explained everything in detail in the documents filed with the request, and I expect them to act on it.

Telekom told me several days later that they "carefully considered the request, took into account all relevant facts and performed all necessary checks". And they concluded: "One call is not considered disturbing."

In the meantime, to remove suspicions that someone is lying or skillfully avoiding presenting the actual situation regarding the misuse of personal data, I again addressed the Commissioner, with a proposal to exercise control over the application of the law, i.e. to determine whether Telekom violated the law, to whom was registered the number of the call (i.e. calls and other citizens who shared the same experience with the public) was sent, and to determine whether (legal or natural) person to which the number was registered violated the Law on the Protection of Personal Data.

I received the principal response from the Commissioner again, which "does not prejudge any decision in the procedure of supervision", but does not respond to the proposal that supervision be carried out. With the clarification of the provisions of the Law on Electronic Communications, I have been informed that the electronic communications inspectors are responsible for the supervision of its implementation, and that the Commissioner, in connection with the calls (and the round-trip voting from door to door), stated in the announcement.

There was an end to the search for answers. Perhaps I could contact the electronic communications inspectors or investigate whether the SNS reported the cost of the phone line and the whole call campaign in the report on financing the campaign submitted to the Anti-Corruption Agency.

The question is whether the answers would essentially differ or we would continue to circle, only with a slightly larger diameter.

It has stayed unclear who called, where he was given information, whether it was part of the campaign and how it was funded and who (if it was) had violated the laws. All these unanswered questions would be sufficient to open a serious debate that should result in the proposals how to prevent such cases in future campaigns.