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Sources of intelligence

Secret intelligence gathering
Data management

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Data Handling
  The Information Office is authorised to handle data of public interest and personal data, including special data. Special data refer to race, nationality, ethnic status, political stance or party affiliation, religious or some other belief, state of health, pathological addiction, sexual life and criminal record too. Obtaining the above sort of data by clandestine intelligence gathering is the deepest intrusion in the private, legally protected sphere of the citizens.

There are also unauthorised individuals - e.g. criminal gangs or economic players rivalling with each other- who frequently resort to secret intelligence gathering unlawfully. Due to technical development there are more and more possibilities to intercept private conversation, spy out telecommunication secrets and jam computer systems. These activities are not bound by state boundaries.

Covert information gathering and handling of personal data obtained in this way may restrict basic constitutional rights; therefore some guarantees have to be in place to regulate the use of secret service means as well as their application by the state bodies that are authorised to use them. Of course the Information Office and its staff are also bound by these regulations.

I. Rules pertaining to legal authority

In compliance with the Constitution, the Republic of Hungary observes the inviolable and inalienable basic human rights. The primary obligation of the state is to respect these rights. The rules concerning basic rights and obligations have to be laid down in acts. Regarding the basic constitutional rights the use of tools and methods of covert intelligence gathering may among others restrict the rights to human dignity, inviolability of private home, protection of private secrets and personal data. In a democracy, a civilian intelligence service can only pursue this sort of activity if it meets all legal guarantees. So we are only allowed to conduct covert intelligence gathering when we discharge our tasks within the scope of our authority and under the conditions laid down in the law.

II. Necessity and proportionality

The efficient and successful functioning of the Office is by far insufficient to give ground for restricting basic constitutional rights. Methods and tools of the covert intelligence gathering are only used if there is no other way to obtain the data needed to accomplish a concrete task. Of several possible and appropriate measures or means of coercion, the one shall be chosen that, besides ensuring efficiency, results in the least restriction, injury, or damage to the person affected by the measure. The measure taken may not cause any harm that is obviously disproportionate to the legal objective of the measure.

III. Authorisation of Individual Application

Individual authorisation is needed in each and every case to conduct covert intelligence gathering. The applicable tools and methods of covert intelligence gathering can be divided into two groups, 1. authorised by a senior leader of the service (i.e. not subject to external authorisation); 2. authorised by an other state body, in the case of the Information Office the Minister of Justice (covert intelligence gathering subject to external authorisation).

IV. Purpose-bound data handling; prohibition of stockpiling data

In a democracy personal data can only be handled for accurately defined legal purposes. It is the Act on national security services that identifies these purposes for our Office. Our Office is not permitted to gather or store personal data different from these set of purposes or in absence of concrete objectives, with the aim of prospective arbitrary use, so to say. The data that are unnecessary to the accomplishment of the task are deleted without delay.

V. Quality of the data

Registration and handling of data have to meet the requirements of correctness and legality. The data must be accurate, complete and timely if necessary, and has to be stored in a way that the person concerned could not be identified any longer than the purpose of the storing justifies it. The quality of the data is legal if it meets the requirements in all phases of data handling.

VI. Documentation and verification of the data flow

In the Information Office all activities, measures and their results related to the application of covert intelligence gathering have to be documented from the planning phase. There are several reasons for its outstanding importance. It is also a guarantee because insufficient documentation in this field may prevent individuals, being subject to any activities linked to data handling, from exercising and enforcing their own rights. Moreover professional considerations (to check information, effectiveness) and the requirements of normal operation (to establish the responsibility of those engaged in the process) also serve as reasons for emphatic enforcement of this basic principle.

European Union
National security files