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Is it legal to ask citizens about their political affiliation by phone call?

Is it legal to ask citizens about their political affiliation by phone call?

After the Law on Political Parties came into force, the parties were given a certain time to have 5 thousand members registered in the Ministry of Justice. Otherwise, the parties will be dissolved by court order in accordance with the law. Several of the parties submitted their membership lists to the Ministry of Justice to fulfill the requirements of the law.

After the membership lists were submitted, the Ministry of Justice called the party members and asked them questions about their party affiliation, which caused wide discussions on social networks.

Fakt Yoxla checked whether getting information about the political views in this form was a violation of the law related to the protection of personal data.

According to Article 3 of the Law on Personal Data, legislation in the field of personal data in Azerbaijan consists of the Constitution, international treaties to which the state is a party, this Law, as well as other normative legal acts.

According to Article 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the scope and collection of personal data is prescribed by law. These laws include the Law on Personal Data and the Law on Access to Information.

According to Article 2 of the Law on Personal Data, personal data is any type of data that allows one to directly or indirectly determine the identity of a person. Article 7.1.6 of this Law indicates that the subject has the right to request a ban on the collection and processing of personal data on him/her.

Furthermore, according to Article 38 of the Law on Access to Information, information reflecting political views, religious beliefs, convictions, and worldviews of private legal entities registered in accordance with the law, excluding information on membership, is classified as personal data. This information is considered restricted information.

In other words, domestic legislation recognizes the right to restrict the collection and processing of personal data and information that would reveal a person's political views.

Let's look at several international and regional documents about this. According to Article 6 of Chapter II of the European Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, personal data revealing racial origin, political opinions or religious or other beliefs, as well as personal data concerning health or sexual life, may not be processed automatically unless domestic law provides appropriate safeguards. The same shall apply to personal data relating to criminal convictions.

This convention was signed and ratified by Azerbaijan in 2010.

Revisiting the question of asking about political party membership in light of the law, it is possible to see that the collection of this information through a telephone call conflicts with the norm that limits the collection of information about an individual.

Furthermore, the Law on Political Parties states that although parties require information about members in a form that reveals their identities, according to Article 21, Paragraph 4, when a person cannot be required to provide information about his/her membership in a political party when providing official information about himself/herself. Paragraph 1 of the same article also states that the rights of a member of a political party cannot contradict the Constitution and other normative legal acts, or international treaties to which the Republic of Azerbaijan is a party.

Moreover, since there is no normative document that defines the procedures for getting information about the political party membership of individuals, questioning a person's political opinions by phone call, and presenting it as evidence in the registration of a political party are also legal problems.

Thus, Fakt Yoxla concludes that verifying the membership of individuals with a phone call is in conflict with Azerbaijan's obligations under domestic legislation and regional conventions.

 

Analysis
  • 10 August, 2023
  • 2537

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