Russian businessmen approached Skolkovo Innovation Center with the initiative to amend the Russian Federal Law on Personal Data Protection in order to allow companies to transfer their customers’ personal data to third party contractors without any notification. The latter, in turn, would then be able to entrust other companies with the task of personal data processing: again, without personal data owners’ consent.
The said amendments were drafted by a pool of experts from IT companies, telecom operators and banks listed on the official website of the “Digital Economy” Autonomous Non-Profit Organization within the framework of the Digital Economy national project. Skolkovo Innovation Center passed the document on to the Working Group on Developing and Regulating the Digital Economy in Russia for further consideration.
The responsibility for personal data security will rest with the initiators of personal data collecting, who were getting the owners’ consents for their data processing. At the same time, owners of personal data will only have the right to know, whom exactly it was further sent to, but not to forbid subsequent data transfers altogether.
According to the proponents of the amendments, such improvements to the law would facilitate the process of getting the consents for personal data processing, while also expanding, enhancing and specifying the list of remote services available to the customers. Major Russian telecom corporations like Megafon and state-run Rostelecom are among the supporters of this initiative.
Many experts oppose this view, however, arguing that such an approach would undermine user rights. For instance, Alexandra Orekhovich, the head of the Internet Initiatives Developmen Fund (IIDF) notes that the right to dispose of the personal data should rest solely with its owner and no one is entitled to take it away.
Mikhail Yemelyannikov, Managing Partner at “Yemelyannikov, Popova and partners” consulting agency sides with the opponents of the initiative too. He believes that the said amendments would be of no benefit to anyone but the businesses seeking to turn personal data into tradable commodity. Moreover, the very essence of these amendments may cause numerous infringements of the Law on Advertisements, which forbids the use of personal data for marketing purposes without customers’ consent.
It is also worth noting, that the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation has recently cut the funding of the Digital Economy national programme by two thirds.