Ministry of Justice wants to reduce accessibility of court data

Minister of Justice Raivo Aeg (Isamaa).
Minister of Justice Raivo Aeg (Isamaa). Source: Government Communication Unit

The Ministry of Justice plans to reduce the accessibility of data related to court trials because when personal data appears in alternative databases, the state cannot ensure data protection.

Minister of Justice, Raivo Aeg (Isamaa) said the bill aims to ensure the databases created by the state will not be used for business goals and with that, to prevent the creation of alternative databases.

"The data, which has been public so far, it will stay public and everybody who is interested can look at it through the corresponding webpage or register. The change is that this data is not considered open data anymore so it is not possible to gather with a robot program for example," Aeg explained.

When the sentence of an individual expires, then the data will be eliminated from the Riigi Teataja databases.

Aeg highlighted the Riigikogu and the municipality elections. "Then we read who has been criminally sentenced. Unfortunately, there were candidates whose sentences were expired whose personal data shouldn't have been public anymore," Aeg said.

An attorney-at-law, Silver Reinsaar, said reducing the accessibility is reasonable.

"Since initiating criminal proceedings can cause prejudice in people, it would restrict access. And the idea is to avoid prejudice in society," Reinsaar said.

At the same time, the draft would make it more difficult to search for information.

According to attorney-at-law Karmen Turki, restricting the availability of court record data means it will be difficult to obtain the data because the current databases, such as the Riigi Teataja, are not very user-friendly.

Martin Šmutov, the editor-in-chief of newspaper Õhtuleht, sees the Ministry of Justice's step as a threat. "This step seems to be a deprivation of some kind of right, which may serve a bigger plan. Although the coalition agreement of the current parties states that they want to move towards greater openness. I do not know how closing court calendars will help our Estonian society move towards openness," he said.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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