Slovenia / Constitutional Court / U-I-70/12-14 Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia v National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia

Key facts of the case:

The Ombudsman (Varuh človekovih pravic RS) challenged the constitutionality of the Protection of Documents and Archives and Archival Institutions Act (hereinafter referred to as the Archives Act) (Zakon o varstvu dokumentarnega in arhivskega gradiva ter arhivih, ZVDAGA). It argued that the Archives Act was inconsistent with the Constitution (URS) insofar as it determined that upon expiry of the relevant time period medical records had to be turned over to the National Archives (Arhiv RS, ARS). As a result, these data became publicly available and could be used in the interests of science and culture, and to ensure legal certainty. The Constitutional Court (US RS) reviewed the challenged regulation in light of the right to protection of personal data (Article 38 of the Constitution (URS)) and, implicitly, the inviolability of personal dignity (Article 34 of the Constitution (URS)). It emphasised the importance of protecting the dignity of patients and stressed that medical records disclose information from the patient’s private life. It further drew attention to the legitimate expectation of privacy that derives from the principle of doctor-patient confidentiality. The Constitutional Court (US RS) concluded that the aim pursued by the Archives Act (ZVDAGA), i.e. to ensure the preservation of documents and make them available to the public, was too broad to justify the interference with the rights of patients, as it failed to adequately consider the specifically sensitive nature of the personal data contained in medical records. It established that the challenged statutory regulation was inconsistent with the Constitution (URS).

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 

 

14. In light of the above, there is no doubt that already the retention of sensitive personal data included in medical records by a public body[14], as well as the archiving of such data and the transportation of the documentation from the health-care provider or practice where it was created to the public archives in order to allow the documentation to be accessible to the public entail an interference with a patient’s right to protection of personal data (Article 38 of the Constitution), and his or her right to privacy (Article 35 of the Constitution), while at the same time threatening the inviolability of his or her personal dignity (Article 34 of the Constitution). The content of the right determined by Article 38 of the Constitution is closely intertwined with the content of the general right to protection of privacy determined by Article 35 of the Constitution.[15] The purpose of the protection of personal data is to ensure respect for a particular aspect of privacy, especially within information society. The Constitutional Court repeatedly emphasised that in Article 38 the constitutional legislature accorded special protection to one of the aspects of an individual’s privacy, i.e. informational privacy.[16] The fundamental value underlying this constitutional provision is the recognition that individuals have the right to keep information regarding themselves to themselves and that the individuals are the ones who, at the outset, decide how much information regarding themselves they will reveal and to whom.[17] In light of this principle the Constitutional Court conducted the review in terms of the right to protection of personal data, thereby taking into account that the effect of the interference also extends to the inviolability of human personal dignity or threatens it.

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FOOTNOTE: [15] It follows from the Judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in joined cases Volker und Markus Schecke GbR (C-92/09) in Hartmut Eifert (C-93/09) v Land Hessen, dated 9 November 2010, that the right to protection of personal data is so closely linked to the right to privacy that it can be deemed that the rights determined by Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (OJ C 83, 30. 3. 2010, pp. 389–403) define “the right to respect for private life with regard to the processing of personal data”.

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language): 

 

ODLOČBA: 14. Glede na navedeno ni dvoma, da že sama hramba občutljivih osebnih podatkov pri javnem organu,[14] zajetih v zdravstveni dokumentaciji, prav tako pa tudi arhiviranje ter prenos gradiva iz zdravstvenega zavoda oziroma ambulante, v katerih je nastalo, v javni arhiv z namenom omogočiti dostopnost tega gradiva javnosti pomenijo poseg v pravico pacienta do varstva osebnih podatkov (38. člen Ustave) in pravico do varstva njegove zasebnosti (35. člen Ustave), hkrati pa ogrožajo tudi nedotakljivost osebnega dostojanstva (34. člen Ustave). Vsebina pravice iz 38. člena Ustave se tesno prepleta z vsebino sicer splošne pravice do varstva zasebnosti iz 35. člena Ustave.[15] Namen varstva osebnih podatkov je zagotoviti spoštovanje posebnega vidika zasebnosti, še zlasti v pogojih informacijske družbe. Ustavno sodišče je že večkrat poudarilo, da je ustavodajalec v 38. členu posebej zavaroval enega od vidikov posameznikove zasebnosti, t. i. informacijsko zasebnost.[16] Temeljna vrednostna podstat te ustavne določbe je spoznanje, da ima posameznik pravico zadržati informacije o sebi zase in da je v izhodišču on tisti, ki odloča, koliko sebe bo razkril in komu.[17] Glede na navedeno je Ustavno sodišče opravilo presojo z vidika pravice do varstva osebnih podatkov, pri tem pa upoštevalo, da se učinek tega posega razteza tudi na nedotakljivost človekovega osebnega dostojanstva oziroma ga ogroža.

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OPOMBA: [15] Iz sodbe Sodišča Evropske unije z dne 9. 11. 2010 v združenih zadevah Volker und Markus Schecke GbR (C-92/09) in Hartmut Eifert (C-93/09) proti Land Hessen izhaja, da je pravica do varstva osebnih podatkov tako tesno povezana s pravico do varstva zasebnosti, da je mogoče šteti, da pravici iz 7. in 8. člena Listine Evropske unije o temeljnih pravicah (UL C 83, 30. 3. 2010, str. 389–403) opredeljujeta "spoštovanje pravice do zasebnega življenja v zvezi z obravnavo osebnih podatkov".

Language: 
Slovenian
Deciding body (original language): 
Ustavno sodišče Republike Slovenije
Language: 
Slovenian