General Administrative Code (1999) (excerpts)

[excerpts]

THE GENERAL ADMINISTRATIVE CODE OF GEORGIA

June 25, 1999. No. 2181-IIR

[As amended on September 9, 1999, under the Law of Georgia No. 2372-IS]

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CHAPTER 3

Freedom Of Information

Article 27. The definition of terms

The terms used in this Chapter have the following meanings within this Chapter:

(a) “Public agency” means a state or self-government agency or institution, or the person who exercises statutory authority on behalf of a public agency pursuant to law or contract, or artificial person of Public Law or Private Law that receives funding from the State Budget.

(b) “Corporate public agency” means a public agency that incorporates a governing or advisory board consisting of more than one public servant, and in which decisions are jointly made or prepared by more than one public servant.

(c) “Member of a corporate public agency” means a public servant who participates in decision-making of a corporate public agency with the right to vote.

(d) “Official” means the person indicated in Article 2 of the Law of Georgia on Conflict of Interests and Corruption in Public Service.

(e) “Session” means the hearing of a matter by members of an agency for the purpose of preparing or rendering a decision on behalf of the public agency.

(f) “Publicizing” means entry of public information into a public register in accordance with law and making public information accessible for the public.

(g) “Public database” means data that is systematically collected, processed and stored by a public agency or public servant.

(h) “Personal data” means public information that allows identification of a person.

(i) “Executive privilege” means the exemption of a public agency or public servant from the obligations stipulated by this Chapter.

Article 28. Accessibility of public information

Public information shall be open except as provided in applicable legislation, or when openness expressly and inevitably undermines:

(a) national security, but only if there is a reasonable presumption that the disclosure of such information will undermine the completion of a military, intelligence or diplomatic action that is planned or being implemented, or the physical safety of persons involved, or

(b) the investigation of a criminal offense, if there is a reasonable presumption that the disclosure of such information will undermine the identification of confidential sources of law-enforcement or intelligence agencies, interfere with the prevention, detection and elimination of an offense and prosecution of an offender, or endanger life and physical safety of any person or violate a suspect’s or defendant’s right to the secrecy of investigation, except when the decree regarding their search was issued.

Article 29. Executive privilege

Names of the public servants participating in the preparation of a decision by an official shall be protected from disclosure by means of the executive privilege.

Article 30. The decision designating public information to be classified

The decision designating public information to be classified may be rendered if law provides express requirement to protect such information from disclosure, establishes concrete criteria for such protection, and provides exhaustive list of classified information.

Article 31. The extension of the term for keeping public information classified

The decision designating public information to be classified or extending the term for keeping public information classified, except as provided in applicable regulation, may be rendered for the term of not more than five years. Such decision and the decision concerning the collection and processing of personal data shall be promulgated within three days after their adoption.

Article 32. The openness of a session

The session conducted by any corporate public agency shall be open and public, except as provided in Article 28 of this Code.

Article 33. The procedure for publicizing secret information

After classified information is declassified, any part of classified public information or protocol of the closed session of a corporate public agency that can be separated on reasonable grounds shall be publicized.

Article 34. The private session of a public agency

A corporate public agency shall publicly announce about forthcoming session, including its place and agenda a week ahead. If the agency decides to close the session, it shall make appropriate announcement. If the place, time or agenda of the session was changed, the agency shall immediately announce the changes. The agency shall publicize the results of the ballot regarding closing of a session and the protocol of decision.

Article 35. Public register

All public information kept by a public agency shall be entered into the public register. Reference to public information shall be entered into the public register within two days after its acquisition, creation, processing or publicizing, indicating its title and the date of receipt of the information, and the title or name of the natural or artificial person, public servant, or public agency, which provided the information or to which it was sent.

Article 36. Ensuring the accessibility of public information

A public agency shall designate a public servant who will be responsible for ensuring the accessibility of public information.

Article 37. Claim of public information

Everyone may claim public information irrespective of its physical form or the condition of storage. Everyone may choose the form of receipt of public information, if there are various forms of its receipt, and gain access to the original of information. If there is the danger of damaging the original, a public agency shall provide access to the original under supervision.

Article 38. Accessibility of the copy of public information

A public agency shall provide access to the copy of public information. No fees shall be charged for distributing public information, except for copying costs.

Article 39. Accessibility of personal information

A person may not be denied access to the public information, which allows his identification, and which shall not be accessible to other persons according to this Code. A person may have access to his personal information that is kept in a public agency, and may obtain copies of such information free of charge.

Article 40. The decision on providing or denying access to public information

1. A public agency shall render a decision on providing or denying access to public information immediately or not later than ten days, if responding to a claim for public information requires:

(a) the acquisition of information from its subdivision that operates in another area, or from another public agency, or processing of such information,

(b) the acquisition and processing of separate and large documents that are not interrelated, or

(c) consultation with its subdivision that operates in another area, or with another public agency, if those are interested in the decision-making on the matter.

2. A public agency shall inform the applicant about the decision, its ground, and applicable regulation.

Article 41. Denying access to public information

If access to public information was denied or the session of a corporate public agency was closed, the agency shall provide an applicant with information concerning his rights and procedures for filing a complaint within three days after the decision is rendered. The agency shall also specify those subdivisions or public agencies, which provided their suggestions regarding the decision.

Article 42. The information that may not be classified

Everyone shall have access to information concerning:

(a) the environment and hazard that constitutes a threat to life and health,

(b) the fundamental principles and objectives of a public agency,

(c) the description of the structure of a public agency, the procedures for assigning and dividing functions among public servants and decision-making procedures,

(d) names and office addresses of those servants of public agencies, who hold important positions or are responsible for public relations,

(e) the results of open ballots in a corporate public agency,

(f) the election of a person to an elective office,

(g) the results of auditing or inspection of the activity of a public agency and court materials on the cases where a public agency acted as a litigant,

(h) the title and location of the public database of a public agency and the name and office address of the person responsible for the database,

(i) the purpose, area of application and legal grounds for collecting, processing, storing and disseminating data by a public agency,

(j) availability or non-availability of personal information of applicant in a public database, the procedures for gaining access to such information, including the procedures allowing the identification of a person, if the person or his representative filed the request to gain access to or modify personal information of the applicant,

(k) the category of persons who may gain access to the personal information contained in a public database pursuant to law, and

(l) the composition and sources of the data contained in a public database and the category of persons, concerning whom information is collected, processed and stored.

Article 43. The procedures for processing personal data

A public agency shall:

(a) collect, process and store only those data that are expressly provided by law and are necessary for the proper functioning of the agency;

(b) develop and establish the program for controlling the conformity of collection, processing, storage and content of the data with statutory goals and terms;

(c) destroy the data that is unrelated to the statutory goal when demanded by a person or required by a court’s decision; destroy inaccurate, unreliable, incomplete and irrelevant data and replace them with accurate, reliable, updated and complete data;

(d) store amended data, indicating the date of their use, together with original data for the period of their existence, but note less than five years;

(e) during the collection of personal information about any person obtain information directly from that person and other sources, only if all possibilities of obtaining information from an initial source were exhausted, except as provided in Article 28 of this Code, and only if the public agency is expressly authorized by law to collect, process and store personal data about persons of certain category;

(f) enter into a public register the information about the collection and processing of personal data and about the claim of data by a third person or a public agency; date, type and objective of a claim and the name/title and address of the applicant;

(g) immediately notify a concerned person at his current address of the claim of his personal data by a third person or a public agency, except as provided in Article 28 of this Code;

(h) before transferring personal data to another person/public agency take all reasonable measures for double-checking whether those data are accurate, relevant, updated and complete;

(i) during the collection, processing and storage of personal data inform a concerned person about the objectives and legal grounds for processing personal data, whether the person is required to provide personal information, the sources and composition of personal information and third persons who may gain access to it.

Article 44. Confidentiality of personal data

1. Personal data, except for those of an official, may not be accessible for anyone without the consent of the person concerned or reasoned decision of a court, as provided in Article 28 of this Code.

2. A court may render the decision declassifying personal data only if it is impossible to prove essential facts on the case on the basis of other evidence, and if all possibilities of obtaining this information from other sources were exhausted.

Article 45. Accessibility of personal data

Personal data may be accessible for the purpose of conducting a scientific research. This rule excludes the possibility of identifying a person.

Article 46. The revision or destruction of data

A person may demand the revision of data or the destruction of illegally obtained data. The burden of proof concerning the legality of collection of personal data shall rest with a public agency. Before the revision of public information a person’s statement concerning inaccuracy of that information shall constitute public information and shall be attached to the pubic information. A public agency or public servant shall render a decision on this matter within ten days.

Article 47. The nullification or amendment of a decision. Claim for damages

1. A person may file a claim in a court demanding the nullification or amendment of the decision of a public agency or public servant, and claim material or non-material damages for:

(a) denying access to public information, partly or completely closing the session of a corporate public agency, or designating public information to be classified,

(b) the creation and processing of incorrect public information,

(c) the illegal collection, processing, storage and dissemination of personal data, or illegal furnishing of personal data to another person or public agency, or

(d) the infraction of other requirements of this Code by a public agency or public servant.

2. The burden of proof shall rest with the public agency or public servant that acts as a defendant in a court.

Article 48. The request for classified information by a court

A court may request for and review classified public information to investigate the legality of designating this information to be fully or partly classified.

Article 49. Reporting

On December 10 every year a public agency shall report to the Parliament and President of Georgia regarding:

(a) the number of requests to provide or modify public information provided to the agency and the number of decisions denying the requests,

(b) the number of decisions complying with or denying requests, the names of the public servants rendering those decisions and the decisions of corporate public agencies to close their sessions,

(c) the public databases and the collection, processing, storage, and furnishing of personal data by public agencies, and

(d) the number of violations of this Code by public servants and the imposition of disciplinary penalties upon officials.

Article 50. The openness of previous public information

Public information under Articles 28 and 29 of this Code, except for commercial, professional, and private secret, shall be open if created, sent or received before October 28, 1990. Such information may not allow the identification of persons indicated therein for life.

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