Access to files and records

Access to files
PET regularly receives requests for access to files from persons wishing to see information being processed by PET.
All requests for access to files are subject to a specific assessment by PET's Legal Department.
On 01 January 2014, the Act on the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (the PET Act) took effect. The regulations concerning access to information processed by PET have been compiled in Chapter 8 of this act.

Here, it is stated that physical and legal entities are not entitled to access to information about them processed by PET, nor are they entitled to be informed if the service is processing information about them, cf. Section 12 of the PET Act. If warranted by special circumstances, PET may grant partial or full access to this information.
Moreover, Section 13 of the PET Act states that physical and legal entities can request the Danish Intelligence Oversight Board to clarify whether PET is unlawfully processing information about them. Having established that this is not the case, the board will notify the individual or entity in question.

Finally, Section 14 of the PET Act states that:

  • Generally speaking, PET's activities are exempt from the Act on Public Access to Documents in Administrative Files. However, with the exception of Section 8 (right to access), the act is applicable to PET's cases on administrative matters.
  • PET's activities are exempt from Chapters 4 to 6 of the Danish Public Administration Act (exceptions from access to files, the processing of and decisions on requests for access to files etc). However, Chapters 4 to 6 of the Danish Public Administration Act are applicable to the handling of personal data by PET in personnel and security clearance cases related to PET's own members of staff, cf. Section 5 of Notice No. 763 dated 20 June 2014 from the Danish Ministry of Justice concerning PET's handling of information related to physical and legal entities etc.
  • PET activities are, as a general rule, exempt from the the Danish Data Protection Act. However, some of the provisions in this act are applicable to PET's internal handling of information, cf. Sections 7(1) and 8(1) of the PET Act. Furthermore, Chapters 4 to 6 of the Danish Data Protection Act are applicable to the handling of personal data by PET in personnel and security clearance cases related to PET's own members of staff, cf. Section 5. of the notice.

Access to archives

In recent years, a number of researchers have been granted access to the archives of PET as part of extensive research projects of societal importance. This has been the case e.g. with researchers from the Danish Institute for International Studies, who were granted access to the archives of PET in connection with the report, “Danmark under den kolde krig” (Denmark during the Cold War), which was published in June 2005.

This also applies to researchers from the Danish Centre for Cold War Studies (established in 2007) who had access to the archives of PET in connection with a research project about the Cold War.

In connection with a question put to the Prime Minister on 21 January 2003 regarding the study of internal Danish conflicts during the Cold War, the Danish Parliament decided that there should be as much openness as possible with regard to events that took place during the Cold War and that other researchers should be treated on an equal footing with researchers from the Danish Institute for International Studies as far as requests for access to files and archives are concerned.

On the basis of this decision, access to the PET archives was granted to researchers from the Centre for Cold War Studies, which was a public authority under the Ministry of Defence.

The access of researchers to the archives of PET is allowed after the researchers in question have been granted security clearance to examine the classified information. Researchers wishing to reproduce classified information in connection with the publication of theses, articles or similar may only do so after PET has had prior opportunity to decide whether the information can be declassified.

In continuation of the 2009 report of the PET Commission, the Minister of Justice declared that researchers, as a general rule, are to be given the opportunity to examine the same material that the PET Commission had at its disposal.