Freedom of information (FIO)
In democracies, citizens make decisions based on the information that is the source of people power. Just an informed citizen is the foundation of a free society.
To achieve the government’s transparency, it is important that the public demands its openness and makes it accountable.
What is public information?
Public information is all information originating from the work of the public sector bodies and occurring in the form of a documents (including a drawing, model, plan, layout, photograph, electronic information, or video and audio recording), i.e. any information stored at a public institution, as well as any information received, processed, created or sent by a public institution or public servant in connection with official activities; also any information proactively published by any public institution.
Who is obliged to release public information?
An obligation to release public information is imposed not only on state institutions, but also on local self-government and government bodies, as well as on those organizations, who have been endowed with certain powers by the state and who are partially or completely financed from the state budget.
Who has the right to request public information?
Everyone has the right to request public information available at an administrative body, as well as to receive its copies.
What information stored at a public institution is not open?
Any information available at a public institution is open unless the information contains:
- State secret
- Commercial secret
- Professional secret
- Personal data
A public institution should provide a respective normative act based on which it decided to classify public information.
State secret involves information, including data containing state secrets in the areas of defense, economy, foreign relations, intelligence, national security and law enforcement, the disclosure of which can prejudice the interests of Georgia. Only a limited circle of officials has access to the classified information and they are responsible for its protection.
Commercial secret is information with a commercial value that may prejudice the competitiveness of a person if disclosed.
Professional secret is information about personal data or a commercial secret of others that has become known to a person while performing his/her professional duties.
Personal data shall mean any information that makes it possible to identify a person.
Within what time frames should public information be issued?
Public information should be issued immediately unless it is requested from another institution or geographical area or the data require processing. In this latter case, information should be issued within ten days.
Is it possible to request information from any public institution electronically?
In Georgia, it is impossible to request information from any public institution electronically. However, it is possible to request information from some agencies through www.my.gov.ge or e-mail.
How do we behave when a public institution refuses to issue information?
Refusal by an administrative body to issue information or a decision to classify particular information may be appealed to an upper administrative body and then to court.