The Public Registry’s security code limits access to public data - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო
GEO

The Public Registry’s security code limits access to public data

21 October, 2014

Free and unhindered access to public information is an important democratic achievement that strengthens the government accountability and allows citizens to monitor government activities.

Modern technologies have remarkably simplified the ways of accessing open data. Therefore, every democratic state should strive to harness these possibilities in order to ensure better access to public information.

A few weeks ago the National Agency of Public Registry added a CAPTCHA security code to the company search section on its website. Since then, the user must type in a string of specific characters from a displayed image before being able to view the data.

Only individual users are able to overcome this barrier, since only they are able to see the displayed characters. This means that the website has become impossible to be accessed by various programs that are able to automatically download and process the data. This restriction should be considered as a step backwards in terms of the access to public information.

We believe that this change significantly restricts citizen access to Public Registry data. Media and civil society use and analyze (using automatic means) this information extensively in order to monitor the activities of government representatives. For example, Transparency International Georgia runs a website companyinfo.ge that uses several automated programs to download and analyze data from the Public Registry website. Transparency International Georgia has already addressed the National Agency of Public Registry as well as the Ministry of Justice requesting the removal of CAPTCHA from the website. Unfortunately, we have not received responses to any of these letters.

Georgia is a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and has recently been elected to the OGP Managing Committee for a two-year period due to its achievements within the program. This should definitely be considered as an important success and an international recognition of developments in the open governance taking place in Georgia. The main principles of the OGP are the freedom of information, openness of data, and use of technology and innovation for these purposes. Government entities must ensure unhindered citizen access to public information as well as the ability to process this data using any method. The Public Registry's decision to add a security code to its website only obstructs the processing of public data.

We believe that this change is a step backwards in terms of the openness of information. The implementation of the CAPTCHA restricts access to data which is crucial for media and civil society organizations in order to perform their research. Therefore, we appeal to the public registry to remove the security code from its website.  

 

Transparency International Georgia
JumpStart Georgia
Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)
Studio Monitor

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