Public information

From Encyklopedia Administracji Publicznej

PUBLIC INFORMATION – any information about public affairs produced by public institutions and by other entities that perform → public tasks financed or co-financed by public institutions. ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION – the constitutional right of a citizen to obtain information about the activities of public authorities and persons performing public functions. Everyone is entitled to the right to access to p.i., and the executor of this right should not be required to demonstrate a legal or factual interest. The right to p.i. includes the right to obtain p.i. containing current knowledge of public affairs. P.i. is a category of data collected and produced legally, strictly related to the performance of public tasks by entities belonging to or not belonging to the public administration apparatus. This also includes all data relating to specific situations that may affect the rights and obligations of citizens or the rights and obligations of citizens regardless of whether such information is at the disposal of public-administration entities or not – it is important that they are connected with the implementation of public tasks. Characteristics of p.i. include: accessibility and universality, professionalism and reliability, intelligibility and clarity (content easy to understand), objectivity (no emotional colouring and judgments); the information should be true; the form, content, and channel for making the p.i. accessible should be controlled in the right way. On the institution’s side, the right to access to p.i. is accompanied by the obligation – public authorities and other entities performing public tasks that are obliged to release the p.i. include union organisations and employers’ organisations and political parties, economic and professional self-government bodies, as well as other persons and organisational units, in so far as they perform public authority tasks and manage municipal property or State Treasury assets. In Poland, there are several statutory ways of making the p.i. available: in the Public Information Bulletin, the Central Public Information Repository, on the notice boards of the institutions/offices, and through the entry to the meetings of collegial local-government bodies (with the possibility of recording audio and/or video), and on request of the citizen. P.i. is free of charge, sometimes access to it (on request) generates costs that are charged to the applicant. Restriction of access to p.i. may only be made for the protection of the freedoms and rights of other persons and economic entities and the protection of public order, security or the legitimate economic interest of the state – as defined in the laws. Examples of such restrictions include: → protection of classified information concerning the security of the state, information important for the economic interests of the state and other entities, privacy of an individual or entrepreneur’s secret, protection of personal data or various types of secrecy (fiscal, statistical, banking, etc.) (→ processed information) [ I. Malinowska, J. Wasil ].

Literature: A. Pawłowska, Informacja – informatyzacja – e-rząd – samorząd lokalny w społeczeństwie informacyjnym [Information - informatisation - e-government - local government in the information society], [in:] Samorząd lokalny w Polsce: społeczno-polityczne aspekty funkcjonowania [Local government in Poland: socio-political aspects of functioning], ed. S. Michałowski, A. Pawłowska, Lublin 2004 ■ Prawo do informacji publicznej. Efektywność regulacji i perspektywy jej rozwoju [The right to public information. Regulatory effectiveness and prospects for its development], ed. M. Maciejewski, Warszawa 2014 ■ P. Winczorek, Komentarz do Konstytucji Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej z dnia 2 kwietnia 1997 r. [Commentary to the Constitution of the Republic of Poland of 2nd April 1997], Warszawa 2008.