One of the next steps following the adoption of the Digitisation Act includes changes in the use of data boxes. From January 2022, the approved amendment will introduce the option of delivering private-law documents to individuals as well as legal entities, or, more precisely, their obligatory receipt. From January 2023, data boxes will be automatically introduced to individuals after they prove their so-called information literacy.
Act No. 261/2021 Coll., amending certain acts in relation to further digitisation of public authority procedures, entered into force on 9 July this year in response to the accompanying resolution to the bill on the Right to Digital Services. It thus builds on the digitisation steps introduced by the Act on the Right to Digital Services by amending and supplementing the set of all existing acts affected by digitisation associated with the respective Act. A total of 144 legal regulations are amended – fundamental changes also affect data boxes, i.e. Act No. 300/2008 Coll., on Electronic Acts and Authorised Document Conversion, as amended (“AEA”).
Automatic introduction of data boxes for individuals
From 1 January 2023, data boxes will be automatically created for self-employed individuals following their entry in the relevant register, as is the case of legal entities or attorneys-at-law. At present, data boxes are created for self-employed individuals only upon request.
Data boxes for non-self-employed individuals should be set up automatically from 1 January 2023 only after they have proved their so-called “information literacy”. This means that they will use electronic identification to log in to the National Identification and Authentication Point (NIA). Users can log in to the NIA in several manners – via NIA ID, eGovernment key, eObčanka, Starcos card or via BankID. All the mentioned login methods will thus result in an automatic establishment of a data box.
Once created automatically, the data box can only be made inaccessible upon request. The only safeguard in this matter is the NIA administrator’s obligation to notify the user that a data box will be set up for them before they complete the login process.
This change was not part of the original bill; it appeared in it along with one of the amendments. The statement of reasons thus logically says nothing about the motives and objectives of the automatic introduction of data boxes.
Delivery of private-law documents through data boxes
Legal entities, self-employed individuals and non-self-employed individuals will send and receive private data messages automatically. While at present, the data box holder must actively allow the receipt of so-called Postal Data Messages, i.e. paid private-law messages, and the addressee must subsequently acknowledge the receipt of the private-law document, from 1 January 2022, the delivery of data messages will be automatically enabled for all data box holders without having to ask for it actively. Each document will then be considered delivered at the moment when the respective person who, with regard to the scope of their authorisation to access the document, logs in to the data box. In addition to waiving the confirmation of delivery, the moment of delivery is newly also determined. If a person does not log in to the data box within ten days from the delivery, the fiction of delivery will apply.
This step unifies the concept of the moment of delivery of public and private-law documents. According to the statement of reasons, the objective of the amendment is, among other things, to prevent obstructions in the delivery of private-law documents. That is because in some cases, the addressee does not intentionally log in to the data box. By the amendment, the legislation became less strict at least by the fact that non-self-employed individuals will be able to make the data box inaccessible for the delivery of Postal Data Messages, i.e. documents sent by individuals, self-employed individuals and legal entities.
The new legislation thus brings a significant shift in the use of data boxes and represents, on one hand, a significant improvement in reaching recipients at the private-law level; on the other hand, it opens data boxes to a potentially significant volume of unsolicited messages. At the same time, it forces greater use of this form of electronic communication in users who were until now accustomed to using data boxes only for communication with public authorities.