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23 February 2010
Albania has recently adopted several IT acts. The acts were drafted based on the EU Information Society Directive's aim to provide the necessary legal framework for electronic communications and e-government. The new law on the protection of personal data sets out the rules on fair and transparent processing of personal data.
The Law on Electronic Signatures (9880/2008) regulates the use and legal recognition of electronic signatures. An 'e-signature' is the combination of electronic and other logical data which identifies the signatory of a document and thus allows for the authentication of the document.
According to the e-signature law, an electronic document which contains the name of the signatory and its e-signature is equivalent in law to a hand-signed paper document and can be used as evidence in legal proceedings. The law established the National Authority for Electronic Certification,(1) whose main duty is to supervise implementation of the law.
Modern use of information and communication technology raises the issues of privacy and personal data protection. In this regard, Parliament has approved the Law on the Protection of Personal Data (9887/2008). Under the law, personal data must be processed in a way that respects human rights and freedoms and privacy.
The law applies to the automatic processing of personal data. Protection of personal data is based on fair, transparent and lawful processing of such data, which is limited to the purpose for which the data is needed. Personal data may be processed only with the subject's consent.(2)
The law regulates the international transfer of personal data. Such transfer may take place between countries that can ensure adequate levels of data protection. The Council of Ministers recently approved Decision 934/2009 on countries that have adequate levels of protection. In particular, the EU member states are considered as having adequate levels of protection.(3)
The Commission for the Protection of Personal Data is the public authority in charge of supervising and monitoring the protection of personal data, in accordance with fundamental human rights and freedoms.
In the past few years Albania has improved its IT systems in order to provide better services to individuals and businesses. Paper government documents have been replaced by electronic documents. E-government will provide efficient, fast and more affordable services to individuals, enterprises and organizations.
The IT reform covered many areas, such as business registration and licensing, public procurement, taxation and identification (ID) documents. The National Registration Centre(4) was established for the registration and incorporation of companies and their simultaneous registration with tax, labour authority and social and health contribution schemes. The centre is a 'one-stop shop' for the registration and incorporation of commercial companies and enterprises, which can be completed in one business day. Company data is organized and stored in databases and is accessible online.
The National Licensing Centre(5) has also been established as a one-stop shop. New acts on licensing and permits have been introduced and several laws and regulations have been amended in order to create a centralized licensing system. A national register has been created, serving as both a publication and announcement tool and an official electronic archive, accessible online, to ensure transparent issuing of licences and permits.
E-government also affects public procurement and taxation. Online systems have been created for making procurement applications, accessing data and filing tax statements.
E-government is closely linked to electronic ID documents. In 2008 the government entered into a concession agreement with Sagem Sécurité and the Albanian-American Enterprise Fund(6) on the production and distribution of electronic ID documents (ie, ID cards and passports). The new documents contain biometric personal data, which is modifiable. Electronic ID documents may be used in the future for the provision of public services, such as social insurance, labour and tax services. The widespread distribution and public use of electronic ID documents represents an important step towards modern, efficient and innovative e-government.
Albania is working to develop an efficient e-government system. Public institutions have engaged with the implementation of the new e-government legislation. Despite some difficulties, the development and implementation of e-government has been mostly positive. Success depends on the widespread use of electronic documents and the government's continued efforts to offer better services to individuals and businesses.
For further information on this topic please contact Ilir Johollari at Hoxha Memi & Hoxha by telephone (+355 4 2 27 4558), fax (+355 4 2 244 047) or email (email@example.com).
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