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Secret intelligence gathering
Data management

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Covert Intelligence Gathering
  In order to discharge its duties within the framework of the rule of law, the Information Office is authorised to pursue covert intelligence gathering.
Hostile organisations often use special tools and methods of covert intelligence gathering illegally, without authorisation, too. Technical development facilitates wiretapping of private communications or telecommunication secrets and impairment of computer systems. This activity does not stop at state borders.

During the discharge of covert intelligence gathering, the Office is authorised to impose restrictions on basic constitutional rights, therefore some rules and guarantees have to in place regulating the use of its tools and methods and their application by the state bodies. Subsequently to discharge its duty our Office is bound by restrictions.

Rules pertaining to legal authority

In compliance with the Constitution the Republic of Hungary recognises the inviolable and inalienable basic human rights. The primary obligation of the state is to respect these rights. The rules related to these basic rights and obligations have to be laid down in law. 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 therefore the intelligence services can only pursue such activities if they abide by efficient legal guarantees The Information Office is authorised to conduct covert intelligence gathering within the scope of its authority, in order to fulfil its mission and under the condition laid down in the law.

II. Necessity and proportionality

Efficient and successful activity of the Office is by far insufficient to provide ground for restricting basic constitutional rights. Methods and tools of the covert intelligence gathering are only used if there is no other way of obtaining the data, needed to accomplish a concrete task. Of several possible and appropriate measures or means of coercion, the one shall be chosen which, besides ensuring efficiency, brings about 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. Individual authorisation of application

Individual authorisation is required to conduct covert intelligence gathering in each and every case. The special tools and methods of covert intelligence gathering can be divided into two groups, depending on whether their application is authorized by a senior leader of the Office (bound to internal authorization) or by another body, in the case of the Information Office the Minister of Justice (bound to external authorization)

IV. Purpose-bound data handling; the prohibition on stockpiling data

In the rule of law personal data can only be handled for accurately defined and legal purpose. It is the Act on national security services that identifies these purposes for the Office. The Office is not allowed to gather or store personal data for purposes different from the ones identified in the law or in the absence of purpose, with the aim of prospective arbitrary use, so to say. The data that is no longer needed to the accomplishment of the task must be deleted without delay.

V. Legal quality of the data

Both registration and handling of the data have to meet the requirements of correctness, legality, the data must be accurate, complete and timely if it is necessary and they have to be stored in a way that the person concerned could not be identified any longer than the purpose of the storage requires. The quality of data is only legal if it meets all these requirements in every phase of the data handling.

VI. Documentation and follow up of data flow

All covert intelligence gathering-related activities, measures and results in the Information Office have to be documented from the planning phase on. There are a number of reasons that make it utterly important to follow up continuously the registered and handled data. From the point of view of guarantees it is indispensable because insufficient documentation in this field might prevent individuals, being subjected to activities linked to data handling, from exercising and enforcing their own rights. Besides, professional considerations (checking information, effectiveness) as well as the requirements of normal operation (tracking the responsibility of those pursuing the process) also serve as reasons for emphatic enforcement of the basic principles.

European Union
National security files