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2016 | 51 | 72-77
Article title

Access to public information and the right for privacy

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Individual’s access to public information has been guaranteed by article 61 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. The said provision precisely sets forth the rights with regards to the access to information on the functioning of public figures or the functioning of the organs of public administration. Additionally, the right to obtain the said details has been thoroughly regulated by the act on the access to public information. The access to public information is tightly related to the principle of transparency with regards to the functioning of state organs, including state officers, with special emphasis put over the ones managing public property. The right for public information remains tightly related to the right for privacy and cannot operate separately. In every precise case, one should consider whether providing an applicant with a piece of public information demanded by them will not bring about the infringement on the privacy right for the persons who the said piece of information refers to or for the persons mentioned therein. The demand by an individual for public information encompassing the grounds for a judicial sentence raises controversies, especially when the sentence has been passed in a criminal case involving sexual circumstances. The grounds for the sentence shall contain the details related to an intimate sphere. As a rule, the right for intimacy should receive absolute protection and may be restricted under special circumstances only, e.g. when the public interest so requires. It must be mentioned here that a wronged person may give up their right for privacy. Such a consent may not constitute an absolute positive prerequisite resulting in the applicant been given the grounds for the sentence as it may lead to the infringement of the privacy right with regards to third parties, for example witnesses. Anonymizing procedure does not guarantee, however, a complete inability to identify the people specified in the grounds for the sentence especially when the sentence refers to a controversial case which was held in a small town, where keeping anonymity seems to be more difficult. My dissertation intends to consider whether a motion to be given a court decision lodged by an individual who is not a participant in the proceedings should be accepted due to the individual’s right for the access to public information or it should be dismissed bearing in mind the right for privacy [3].
Physical description
  • Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Gdansk 6 Jana Bażyńskiego Str., 80-309 Gdańsk, Poland,
  • [1] J.J. Berman, Public Access to Electronic Public Information. Software Law Journal 3 (1989) 491-521.
  • [2] S. Morris, S. H. Shin, Social Value of Public Information. The American Economic Review 92(5) (2002) 1521-1534.
  • [3] P. T. Jaeger, J. C. Bertot. Transparency and technological change: Ensuring equal and sustained public access to government information, Government Information Quarterly 27(4) (2010) 371-376.
  • [4] V. L. Lemieux and S. E. Trapnell, Public Access to Information for Development, A Guide to the Effective Implementation of Right to Information Laws (2016) 13-31.
  • [5] P. Romaniuk, Modern Possibilities of Access to Public Information In The Community Under Polish Law, [in:] Communication as a Measure of Protection and Limitation of Human Rights. Information in Relation to Human Rights (2013) 396-401.
  • [6] R. K. Verma, Right to Information Law & Practice with Case Book on Right to Information (2009) 258-293.
  • [7] K. M. Shrivastava, The Right to Information: A Global Perspective (2013) 5-18.
  • [8] See, for instance, P. Szustakiewicz. Dostęp do informacji na podstawie ustawy o dostępie do informacji publicznej, [in:] Obywatelskie prawo do informacji, pod red. T. Gardockiej (2008) 14-20.
  • [9] See, for instance, H. Izdebski. Samorząd terytorialny. Podstawy ustroju i działalności (2014) 209-210.
  • [10] The Constitution of the Republic of Poland of 2nd April 1997 (Journal of Laws from the year 1997, Number 78, item 2135.
  • [11] The Act dated 6th September 2001 on public information accessing (unified text: Journal of Laws from the year 2014, item 782, as amended), hereinafter referred to as the Act.
  • [12] The Personal Data Protection dated 29th August 1997 (unified text: Journal of Laws from the year 2015, item 2135.
Document Type
Publication order reference
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