Two Kosovar NGOs, LENS from Pristina and KCIC from Gjilan, with the help of an EU grant, have implemented a project that has aimed to put on track a range of measures that would prevent personal data misuse and privacy violations. The main activities of the project have been to empower a group of NGOs to contribute in this direction, to create new resources and facilitate the use of existing ones, as well as to raise the awareness of public on the given issue.
Following 20 months of work in the EU funded project, civil society in Kosovo has been organized and trained to protect the human rights threatened at the time of technological development. The project “Defending Human Rights in the Digital Age” is formally completed, but the situation in the sector will continue to improve thanks to the results achieved during the implementation. The network of non-governmental organizations will continue to oversee the situation with privacy of Kosovars and the security of their personal data. The cooperation with state institutions and counterpart organizations in Europe towards improving the legislation and its implementation will continue in the future as well. The numerous resources generated by this project will remain accessible on the dedicated web site. More work still has to be done and civil society must remain vigilant to keep up with the further commercialization of personal data and technological development, but a good start gives an optimistic outlook.
The widespread use of the Internet, the increased ability of the commercial sector to process information, and cheaper and widespread video surveillance are only some of the developments that have caused serious concerns among the organizations that deal with privacy rights. Kosovo is no exception and the rapid spread of internet usage has especially alarmed the oversight organizations. Deputy Head of Cooperation at the EU Office in Kosovo, Libor Chlad says “The EU Office in Kosovo is always interested in supporting such initiatives. Privacy is an important human right and protection of personal data its crucial component. The EU has well developed laws to protect the right to privacy and by aiming for the same standards, Kosovo is one step closer to embracing the European values.”
The dedicated web site www.digitalrightskosovo.com and the page on social network Facebook (Digital Rights Kosovo) contain important information, most of which is presented in an easy-to-understand format, and finding them is easy. The NGO network will continue to function and contacting it is convenient through these two webpages. Cooperation of civil society with state institutions, particularly with the National Agency for Personal Data Protection (ASHMDP) will continue for the benefit of citizens. Network members pledge that they will adapt their engagement to the circumstances and will remain vigilant so they can react swiftly in case of immediate violations.