Recently, legislators in the Czech Republic made an important step towards strengthening the rights of natural and legal persons as “clients of public authorities” to the provision of services by public authorities in the form of digital services. The draft Act on the Right to Digital Services (“ARDS”), also called “Digital Constitution”, presents a revolutionary approach to communication with the public authorities, and has been greeted with great acclaim by the general public.At present, there is no relevant, state-guaranteed overview of the services provided by public authorities (or their acts towards public service users) in the Czech Republic, to which de facto every person has under certain circumstances a right and which the public authorities are obliged to provide. The Digital Constitution, within five years of its adoption, will guarantee to natural and legal persons the possibility of communicating with the state authorities purely electronically. Initially a number of opponents of the ARDS proposal believed that such obligations upon the public authorities were already sufficiently provided for by existing legislation, and considered the proposal superfluous. However, experience has proven otherwise and the comprehensive change in the approach to the provision of the services by public authorities and its enforcement has shown to be a necessary measure to make the right step towards the digitization and modern use of public services.
The proposed text of ADRS fundamentally changes the current paradigm of approach to communication with public authorities in the Czech Republic, where it enshrines the rights of “natural and legal persons to provision of digital services by public authorities in the exercise of their powers” and “the obligation for public authorities to provide digital services“. The legislators believe that this will ensure a more functional model of the provision of services by the public authorities in accordance with the material concept of “public authorities as public service”.
The act currently awaits consideration by the relevant committees before it may further proceed towards being adopted by the Czech legislature. In spite of initial mistrust of this regulation, it seems that Czech legislators have begun accepting the new concept and the Czech Republic will soon make another step towards simplifying citizens’ access to public sector services and improving users’ communication with public authorities.