Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) submitted its opinion to the Parliament regarding the draft law on “Personal Data Protection” initiated on 22 May 2019. The opinion of IDFI covers the following important issues: grounds for processing personal data; grounds for processing special categories of personal data; termination of processing of personal data, erasure and destruction of data; restriction of processing of data.
In IDFI’s opinion, in the era of technical progress and information technologies, existence of strong legislative guarantees of personal data protection is especially significant. However, at the same time, ensuring a reasonable and proportionate balance between personal data protection and freedom of expression/access to information is of utmost importance.
It is problematic that for years the state has not improved the legislation regulating public information in Georgia which is the obligation derived from the action plan on implementation of the association agenda. In case the draft law on “Personal Data Protection” is adopted, access to information will be significantly restricted in certain areas.
IDFI considers that in the process of protecting personal data, freedom of expression/access to information should not be disproportionately restricted, as it is the most important value, which is a necessary precondition for the establishment of a democratic state.
State Inspector’s Service – a body responsible for protection of personal data – is functioning in Georgia. However, there is no body, which would balance its work. Existing practice reveals that the balance between freedom of information and personal data protection is disrupted. When enforcing the regulation foreseen be the draft law, this balance can be further disrupted.
The opinion submitted by IDFI discusses those issues, which will have a negative impact upon freedom of expression and access to information. Taking into account the fact there is no Law on Freedom of Information in Georgia, which would ensure strong guarantees of access to information, while enforcing the strict legal regime of personal data protection, such challenges might also emerge which cannot be predicted in advance.
IDFI calls on the Parliament to take into consideration the interest of personal data protection as well as freedom of expression/access to public information when discussing the draft law and not to deteriorate the existing standards of freedom of information.
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