Is it worth answering law enforcement inquiries about confidential customer information?
Today, it is difficult to find a retail company that does not have its own bonus program. Most of these programs are related to the collection of customer data. And very often law enforcement agencies are interested in such data, and the company begins to receive various requests from investigators.
Investigators use such requests to gather information in criminal proceedings. And in terms of content, the requests are mostly as follows: “Is citizen X a participant in your bonus program? If so, give his phone number. And an e-mail address, place of residence. And tell me what he bought from you. And if you do not provide information, we will come to you with a search. "
Some companies have not seen any such requests during their entire work, while others receive dozens of them every week. It is these companies that must decide for themselves whether to respond to the investigator's inquiries.
Is it possible not to provide information? Yes, you can. Very often law enforcement officers ask to provide information about the company's client, referring to Art. 93 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine. This article gives the investigator or prosecutor the right to request information during a criminal investigation. However, no legal act provides for liability for failure to provide information at the request of the investigator.
There is another important nuance that is neglected by law enforcement. Personal data of an individual is classified as a secret that should be protected by law and, in fact, by law enforcement officers. Therefore, access to such information requires a special procedure. An investigator may gain access to a person's personal data only if he or she proves in court that this information has exclusive probative value in criminal proceedings. Only after receiving the decision of the investigating judge on temporary access to things and documents, law enforcement officers may request personal information.
Now, given the lack of real responsibility, probably the hands are itching to throw the investigator's letter in the trash? But you don't have to do it right away. Among thousands of similar inquiries, there may be at least one that should be answered in order not to ask for a search. Therefore, each request needs to be analyzed and potential risks identified.
It is often possible to refuse to provide information for formal reasons: the address or addressee is incorrectly indicated, there is no criminal procedure number. If, after analyzing the request, you decide that law enforcement officers are illegally asking to provide personal data of the client, you can choose one such option:
Provide the investigator with an answer in the format “The information you request contains personal data and therefore cannot be provided. Information containing personal data is provided solely on the basis of a court order. ”. In this case, the probability of a search is quite low.
Pros: the company will not disclose the personal data of its client, will preserve its reputation, the number of requests from law enforcement will be significantly reduced.
Cons: you will not become friends with the investigator and may come to you with a decision on temporary access to things and documents.
Provide the investigator with all information about your client as soon as possible. After that, call and report.
Pros: you may be friends with the investigator, and then you will be able to brag to your friends about "connections in the organs."
Cons: your company will become an "address office", and such requests will be received constantly, so you will have to hire a "request specialist". Also be aware that you may be held liable for the disclosure of personal information.
Throw the request in the trash and continue to do their business.
Pros: Don't disclose your client's personal information, preserve your reputation, don't have to hire a "query specialist" and save on paper and ink.
Cons: The investigator will be able to use your silence to obtain a search warrant.
Everyone decides what to do with such requests. If your business is completely transparent and it is important for you to maintain a reputation in the eyes of customers, you may not respond to the request. And, rest assured, law enforcement officers will find a reason to visit you "for a cup of coffee."
The article is published on the site "New time"