THE NEW website providing free information on real estate owners in Slovakia broke the law on its first day of operation when it released birth ID numbers of some people included in the database.
The law on the protection of personal data forbids the dissemination of a person's birth ID number without their permission.
The Office of Geodesy, Cartography and Cadastre said that the information leak was a one-time incident, which only involved a limited number of entries. The office immediately demanded the website operator make the corrections without delay, Štefan Moyzes, chairman of the Office of Geodesy, Cartography and Cadastre said.
"The operator has made sure this won't happen again," Moyzes told The Slovak Spectator. "Currently, that information does not appear."
A spokeswoman of the Private Data Protection Office, Libuša Staňová, said it's not clear how the privacy violation could be penalised.
"Sanctions for the violation of the law depend on the extent of violation, which means whether dozens or thousands of birth IDs have been leaked," Staňová told The Slovak Spectator.
Website users have also reported technical difficulties with trying to access the free site, which replaced a paid version that had been running since 2004. However, the cadastral (land registry) office said it increased the number of clients who were able to access the site only gradually in order to avoid overburdening or crashing the system.
Since the free website was launched on September 1, more than 900,000 electronic requests have been processed, according to the cadastral office.
The launch required a Sk42 million investment (€1.2 million), while the annual costs of operating the site are estimated at Sk9 million, according to Moyzes.
House and land information online for free
The website helps the users to avoid lengthy correspondence or personal visits to local cadastral offices when they are seeking information about real estate ownership in Slovakia. An English version of the site is under development.
"Free access is possible seven days a week and 24 hours a day from anywhere in the world," Moyzes said. "One of the crucial aspects is improving the transparency of ownership, reducing corruption and widening services in the area of real estate cadastre."
Information from the website, www.katasterportal.sk, cannot be used in court or other legal proceedings because it is only for the information of the users.
After an electronic filing room is launched, it will be possible to issue ownership certificates in electronic form, which will serve as a public certificate with legal power. However, the move will also require a functioning electronic signature system, which has not been launched in Slovakia yet.
The cadastral website lets users search in a selected cadastre territory by the owner's name, plot number, building registration number, certificate of ownership number, birthday, company registration number, and axes of the cadastral map, Moyzes said.
Only the police, tax offices, courts, notaries, executors and similar groups can search the system by using birth IDs for the whole territory of Slovakia.
The cadastral website includes information on 13.3 million plots of land, 1.4 million buildings, and 20.8 million owners, the Pravda daily wrote.
10. Sep 2007 at 0:00 | Marta Ďurianová