Another law to liquidate employers: 20 million fine for a small mistake

Another law to liquidate employers: 20 million fine for a small mistake

Another law to liquidate employers: 20 million fine for a small mistake

On Thursday, the Office for Personal Data Protection introduced a new law on personal data protection, which contains a shocking possibility for the Office to impose fines of up to EUR 20,000,000 for minor infringements. It is the highest peak for a fine in Slovak legislation in history. This is twice the previous record, with a maximum of EUR 10,000,000 in the Energy Act or the Stock Exchange Act.

In Slovakia, there are now fierce but also superficial debates about the "first European league", but in practice the main problem of Slovakia is that it cannot guard its interests at European level. The same problem is that everyone is talking about improving the business environment and that we should reduce the administrative burden, but in practice, entrepreneurs are only more and more encumbered by obligations.

If the employer breaks the law at the workplace and the worker dies due to negligence, the maximum fine is 200,000 euros. If the same entrepreneur now does any of the below, he will be able to receive fine up to € 20,000,000:
- if the personal identification number is accidentally published, for example in a contract, as it happened at the Town Hall in Ružomberok or at the Ministry of Defense's Housing Agency,
- if the entrepreneur forgets to provide instructions on the possibility to withdraw the consent to the processing of personal data at any time.

The Office for Personal Data Protection will thus become the most powerful authority in the country, which will be able to cause bankruptcy in 99% of entrepreneurs, but also in municipalities and non-profit organizations, with only one inspection. The office is now controlled by the political party SMER and can be an excellent tool for destroying any inconvenience. At the same time, the possibility of imposing such fines creates enormous corruption potential.

We wanted to challenge this proposal immediately, but we found that it stems from a regulation adopted by the Council and the European Parliament last year. Although the Office has traditionally interpreted this regulation in a "Slovak way", ie to the widest extent possible, the substance of the fine of EUR 20 million is based on the Regulation itself. All Slovak MEPs also voted in favour of this regulation.

In the European Parliament, Facebook, Google and similar cases were discussed, none of the left-wing or right-wing Slovak MEPs or the Slovak Minister had any idea what this would mean for Slovak entrepreneurs. We are in favour of being at the heart of the European Union, but this also requires professionalism and vigilance in adopting European legislation.

In conclusion, we are going to find ways under European legislation to limit the Office's ability to impose huge fines for minor infringements.

Jozef Mihál and Miroslav Beblavý
Members of the National Council of the Slovak Republic

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