New rules for replica ID cards

Poland: Entry into force of new law on public documents raises concern among companies processing personal data.

The Act on Public Documents, which comes into force on 12 July 2019, introduces comprehensive regulation with regard to the principles of functioning of the public document security system.

The new act defines a public document as a document which serves to identify persons, objects or confirms the legal status or rights of persons using the document, protected against forgery and produced according to a model specified by law or the graphic design and form of which have been approved by an entity performing public tasks, and which is consistent with the requirements for the specimen document specified by law.

In connection with the entry into force of the new regulations, the introduction of criminalizing the trade in so-called replicas of public documents has raised the most concern. Producing, circulating and storing these will be banned and criminally sanctioned by up to 2 years’ imprisonment. Many entrepreneurs are concerned that the definition of replicas includes, for example, photocopies of identity cards or passports, which are very often created in the course of everyday business activity.

According to the new act, a replica of a public document is a reproduction or a copy of between 75% and 120% of the original size, with authenticity features of a public document or a specimen thereof, except for photocopies or prints of a public computer document made for official, business or professional purposes specified under separate regulations, or for the use of the person for whom the public document was issued.

The data covered by these replicas and the replicas themselves are often needed for the record purposes of employees, contractors, debtors or subcontractors. Their further processing is, according to some commentators, questionable, but the wide exclusion of copies made for official and other purposes or for the use of the persons concerned cannot be disregarded.

Practice and case law will need to clarify the permitted use of replicas of public documents. As it seems, though, express consent of the interested party to the indication of (preferably official) purposes might serve as sufficient basis for preparation and use of replicas within the limits of the law and without penalty.

At the same time, it depends on the effectiveness of the new provisions whether such curiosities as “collectors’ ID cards” will disappear from the market. They have commonly been used to commit crimes, including bank fraud.


Source: Act on Public Documents of 22.11.2019 (J.L. 2019, item 53)

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