Internet Freedom in Georgia – Report N1

News | Good Governance | Media Internet Telecommunications | Publications | Article 23 October 2013

 Internet technologies are gradually gaining foothold in Georgia. In order to display the main tendencies in this regard, Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) prepared a report which explores Internet accessibility, access to public information, implementation of e-governance and freedom of expression in Georgia.

Main findings of the first report:

 Despite growing tendency, it is apparent that limited internet accessibility remains one of the fundamental challenges for development of new technologies and electronic governance. Various researches and reports highlighted several obstacles to internet expansion: inappropriate prices for services, inadequate infrastructure, economic burden, lack of needed skills, etc.

There are some elements of e-Government and e-Transparency functioning in Georgia, including proactively disclosed information. However, those are single instances rather than part of a unified, regulated and systematized policy, no single standard in terms of content and timeframes is followed.

There is only one law which specifically mentions the Internet – according to the law of Georgia on Freedom of Press and Speech, media is defined as “print or electronic means of mass communication, including the Internet”, however, content regulation is not clearly defined, which challenges freedom of expression via Internet.

From social activism perspective, together with obtaining alternative and diverse information, citizens’ willingness for interaction and online communication through expression their own views, active involvement in online discussions and forums is equally determinant factor. However, it is evident that internet is infrequently used for relatively interactive purposes. Besides, it is argued that socially active people usually do not translate their virtual activism into real actions.

Despite such limitations, the fact that some social actions were planned and many online petitions were promoted through Facebook illustrates the step forward. Doubtless, social networks are significant platforms for discussion and information exchange.

After the change of the government many facts were revealed concerning usage of politically motivated surveillance by Georgian state authorities. However, since investigation of such cases is not finished yet, it is hard to discuss on precise details.

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