Data boxes – Easy, Economic, and Environmentally-Friendly Delivery of Official Documents

The Datove Schranky / Data boxes are an electronic archival system that facilitates communications between citizens, businesses, and public administration bodies in the Czech Republic. The system’s web interface replaces the traditional exchange of printed documents, such as submitting tax returns, and allows for immediate access from any Internet-connected computer. Technical specifications of the system are publicly available, and applications for mobile devices are offered by third parties. The use of the system is mandatory for the state administration and legal entities, and citizens may choose to set up a data box of their own if they so choose. In that case, the state administration is obliged to use the data box for communicating with them.

Policy Context

Thanks to information technologies, data boxes have fundamentally changed the way we deliver (and receive) official documents. Using data boxes, documents can be sent to or by public authorities in electronic form.

Description of target users and groups

This method of communication – through data boxes – completely replaces the classic method of delivery in paper form because the law on data boxes gives equal value to paper and electronic versions of documents. Public authorities and certain groups of legal entities and businesses have their data boxes set up automatically by law, while all others do so at their own discretion.

The goal of data boxes is to arrive at a more efficient – that is, quicker, cheaper, and more reliable – public administration.

Data boxes are one of the basic building blocks of Czech eGovernment. In the graphical representation of the concept, which uses the eGON figure, data boxes are shown as the circulatory system, because data messages containing various documents flow through it. eGON’s heart is the Data Box Information System (ISDS in Czech), which enables the data messages to circulate.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The Data Box Information System has been in operation in the Czech Republic since 1 July 2009, on the basis of Act No. 300/2008 Coll., On electronic transactions and authorized conversion of documents. The Data Box Information System is a public administration information system as defined by Act No. 365/2000 Coll., On public administration information systems, as amended. Since its inception, it has been providing an ever-increasing number of users with a secure and convenient means of communication, saving them both time and money.

The method or the process of setting up a data box varies according to the type of the entity for which the data box is to be established. The type of the entity determines whether the data box is created automatically, or by request. The creation of the data box is free. The easiest way is to ask for a data box to be set up at a Czech POINT contact point. Data boxes established by law are created automatically, i.e. the entities do not need to apply.

Working with Data Boxes

A data box can be controlled in two ways. Either via the data boxes web portal, which is a free online application operated as a part of the data box system, or using software developed and supplied by a third party.

Third-party applications use the publicly available API of the ISDS. The use of the application interface is free and requires no registration by data box users.

Technology solution

Ties to Base Registers

Individual registers, which together form a system called “Base Registers”, use the Data Box Information System (ISDS) in many ways. The following is a brief description of the most important links.

Data Entry into Base Registers

Entering the Data Box Identifier

When a new data box is made available, the ISDS enters a corresponding data box identifier into the Register of Entities or the Register of Inhabitants (depending on whether the data box was created for a private individual, an entrepreneur, a legal entity, or a public authority). A prerequisite for the entry is that a company registration number (IČO) is assigned to the data box created in the ISDS, and an entity with that registration number is entered in the Register of Entities. When a data box is cancelled, the ISDS removes the entry from the respective register.

Entering into the Register of Rights and Duties

The act on Base Registers requires that upon each change of reference data in the Base Registers, an entry is recorded in the Register of Rights and Duties about the decision that led to the change. The Ministry of the Interior is, with regard to data boxes, expected to edit a single piece of reference data – the data box identifier. So, the ISDS records a new entry in the Register of Rights and Duties every time this identifier is either entered into or erased from the Register of Entities or the Register of Inhabitants.

Use of Data from the Base Registers

The Ministry of the Interior uses reference data from the Base Registers extensively for managing the data boxes. Base Registers are therefore the most important source of data on the basis of which data boxes are created and their users’ identification data is updated.

Establishment of Data Boxes by Law

Based on information from the Register of Entities, data boxes are established for entities that are required by law to have one. This is the case for all legal entities, with the exception of a small set of entities that do not have entries in the Register of Entities because they have not been assigned an identification number (public authorities without legal status).

Freezing Data Boxes

Data boxes are frozen for entities that have had a termination date entered in the Register of Entities. Similarly, once an individual person has had the date of their death entered in the Register of Inhabitants, their data box is frozen from that date.

Updating Data Box Information

Identification data about entities with records in the Base Registers that is stored with data boxes of all types is automatically updated based on changes entered into the Base Registers. This means that changing the name of an entity or a company address does not need to be reported to the Ministry of the Interior – the changes are reflected automatically.

Adding / Removing Authorised Agents

Authorised agents for data boxes of those entities that are registered in the Register of Entities are updated to reflect changes in the list of statutory representatives kept for a given entity in the Register of Entities. So, if a new statutory representative is entered into the Register, an authorized agent account is automatically created for them for their company’s data box. The same works the other way round as well: if a statutory representative is removed from the Register, the authorized agent account for the respective data box is cancelled.

Updating the Personal Data of Data Box Users

For all users of data boxes, the Ministry of the Interior attempts to automate their identification to the relevant entry in the Register of Inhabitants. For users whose identification succeeds, current reference data from the Register of Inhabitants is automatically utilised in the ISDS. For example, changes in name or address are automatically reflected.

Technology choice: Standards-based technology

Main results, benefits and impacts

Statistics

The number of users as well as the number of transmitted data messages is still growing. In January 2015, users of data boxes sent a record number of data messages: 6 612 513, which is about 171 000 messages more than during the previous most successful month (October 2014).

A record number of messages were sent not only by public authorities – a growth trend is also evident among legal entities and individuals. In January 2015, 74% of messages were sent from the boxes of public authorities and 26% of messages from the boxes of legal entities and private individuals or entrepreneurs.

The overall number of data messages sent through the data box system has reached 250 million. This number was reached 5 years and 8 months after the start of the service.

Data Boxes in Numbers

  • Users have already sent a total of 250 million data messages.

  • More than 300 000 messages are sent every day and over six million every month.

  • A total of over 630 000 data boxes have been created for public authorities, legal entities, individuals, and entrepreneurs.

  • The average delivery success rate (based on the addressee logging in and opening their delivered message) is 99%. This means that only 1% of data messages are not read within ten days of delivery.

Lessons learnt

Scope: National

Categorisation

Type of document
General case study

Attachment

Documentation
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