Freedom of Information and Internet Regulation in Georgia

News | Statements | Media Internet Telecommunications | Publications 21 May 2010

Freedom of Information and Internet Regulation in Georgia

 

(Legal analysis)

 

The subject of active debates of XXI century society is the development and improvement of appropriate and effective mechanisms for perfect functioning of information freedom. Against a background of rapidly developing Internet technologies the stated issue gains more importance, which in turn requires the development of corresponding legislative base, fitting the existing reality and social requirements.

 

In this direction the special attention should be paid to the legal issues of Internet management and Internet transparency. In the era of rapidly increasing Internet technologies its use plays the vitally important role from the viewpoint of good management implementation. Despite the fact, that the joint resolution of EU member countries on recognition of information freedom as fundamental right was taken only in 2008, the debates about responsibility of public authorities and mechanisms of fulfillment of such responsibility were begun earlier. Its fact, that existence of liability for proactive distribution of information by means of internet on the normative level, really is not enough from the viewpoint of right protection, however when in the country there are more than 900,000 internet consumers (by 2008 year data of Georgian National Communications Commission), the importance of the mentioned issue is without doubt.

 

Georgian Constitution and International acts determine the state liability to ensure the fulfillment of information freedom right. Its fact, that the issues of electronic transparency and management every day become more and more relevant in Georgian reality. However, above mentioned could not get yet the absolute reflection in legislation.

 

The Georgian Law on “Electronic communications” determines the legal and economic basis of activity by electronic communication network and means, also the principles of regulation and implementation of competitive environment in this sphere on the territory of Georgia.

 

The Law on “Electronic signature and electronic paper” of March 14, 2008, gives more or less sensible legal basis of electronic transparency.

 

The deficit of legislative acts concerning publication of public information on Internet sites is somehow filled with the “The National anti-corruption strategy of Georgia” approved by the Decree of the President of Georgia №550 of 24 June 2005. According to paragraph 2.3 of the strategy, the Georgian government accepted liability to take measures for implementation of electronic system for public information distribution. However, the strategy defined goal couldn’t received yet the structure of united action, as in the action plan for execution of the above mentioned strategy, approved by the decree of the President of Georgia №363 of July 2, 2007 it received the fragmented feature.  

 

The liability of State institutions for having its own web site is not regulated by Georgian legislation.  The one exception could be the Decree of the President of Georgia №550 of 24 June 2005 the “The National anti-corruption strategy of Georgia”, which of course can’t resolve the problem of electronic transparency in Georgia.

 

Also, we must consider discrepancy in current requirements of proactive transparency and the article 42 of chapter III of General Administrative code of Georgia, which gives the list of information, secrecy of which is not allowed. 

 

The fragment approach of state policy to electronic transparency is manifested exactly by the fact, that there is no legislative act, which could define the liability for website development to public institutions, obligatory standards and minimum of information to be publicized on the website.  The mentioned issues are mainly regulated by the acts approved by managers of specific department.

 

In order to fulfill completely and effectively the transparency liability of the State, it is necessary the appropriate legislative base to be presented, which could inform the Public institutions the methods and means of information distribution. Such approach will definitely give the positive results:

It will not allow the State departments to avoid the fulfillment of taken responsibilities; 

It will facilitate for Citizens and interested persons the possibility of own right realization;

It will decrease expenses of Public institutions, as well as of private persons and so on. 

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