E-access to public information, case II SAB/ Wa 57/09

February 18th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

In 2008, the Polish media reported a story on the Polish Post which allegedly tested a system that scans envelopes and parcels. There were rumours that information gathered by such scanning could be used by the Internal Security Agency (ABW). ABW denied, but the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection has decided to investigate how the collected data are processed during the scan. Roman P. has requested the GIODO to make available the results of the investigation. Since Roman P. filed his request by phone and then by e-mail, the GIODO informed that it will consider the request only after it receives personal data of Roman P.

The GIODO based its opinion on the provisions of Article 63 § 3 of the Administrative Proceedings Code – APC – (in Polish: Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego) of 14 June 1960, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 30, item 168, consolidated text of 9 October 2000, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 98, item 1071 with subsequent amendments.

§ 1. Applications (requests, explanations, appeals, complaints) may be filed in writing or by telegram, telex, fax, email or by using the form available on the website of the competent public administration, allowing data entry into the communications system of the body, as well as verbally to the protocol.

§ 2 The application shall include at least an indication of the person from whom it comes, its address and it shall satisfy other requirements stipulated in the special regulations.

§ 3 The application submitted in writing or orally to the protocol shall be signed by the applicant, and also by an employee who made the protocol. When the application is filed by a person who can not or do not know how to make a signature, the application or a protocol is signed by other person authorized, by making a reference next to the signature.

The GIODO decided that the application filed by Roman P. shall indicate the person from whom it derives, its address and the scope of the request, otherwise, the request will not be examined.

Roman P. brought a complaint against this decisopn. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment case file II SAB/ Wa 57/09 ruled that the GIODO failed to act and ordered the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection to examine Roman P. request within 14 days because information he demanded, is deemed as the public information as defined in Article 5(2) of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments. The Court also ruled that arguments and findings to leave the application without further examination, because it was sent by e-mail, have no support in the APC.

See also “Polish case law on e-access to public information“.