IZ KRUGA VOJVODINA on the Focus Group for the Protection of Privacy

A coordinator of the SOS service IZ KRUGA VOJVODINA, Ivana Zelic, took part in the focus group on the protection of privacy of marginalized groups in an online environment. The event took place online on January 21, 2022. organized by the associations working to improve the rule of law and development of civil society Partners for Democratic Changes Serbia.

Thirteen representatives of the civil society associations and investigative journalists that support marginalized groups aiming to establish the problems they face, the frequency of violations of their rights and ways to protect online privacy took part in the focus group.

Violations of privacy and data protection rights are increasingly present among representatives of the particularly vulnerable groups (children, victims of violence, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBT community, Roma) which most often results in violation of other rights, further stigmatization and marginalization of society members.

During the focus group great attention has been paid to the role media has in the protection of privacy. Ivana Zelic cited the example of media coverage of femicide, which is often sensationalist and where publishing the initials, age, place of residence and other data of women from smaller towns directly violates their privacy.

– We have been in a situation several times where the media directly have addressed us with a request to provide contact details of women exposed to violence to interview them. Knowing that the SOS line guarantees anonymity and confidentiality, we did not comply with this request, but this shows how unwilling the media is to protect the privacy of women who have suffered violence – said Ivana Zelic.

Women and girls in violent situations are additionally victimized online by uploading their private photos and videos. Although Criminal law regulates this, women most often decide not to commence appropriate legal actions because of all the things they have already survived in order to protect their privacy.

Focus group participants concluded that people who have suffered a violation of privacy are often not aware of the consequences and they do not have enough information about their legal possibilities if it occurs. Civil society organizations can organize privacy protection training on the Internet but the number of people they can reach is limited, which is why it is necessary to involve institutions in the whole process.

Based on the data gathered in the focus group, Partners Serbia would through The Initiative for the Protection of Privacy of Marginalized Groups Online make the proposals for public policies and advocate for the improvement of their situation and better privacy protection.

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