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III. Privacy issues

Privacy case law

Privacy claims are very rare in Georgian courts. They started to appear in 2001. Most of those claims are dealt with under the Civil Code, which includes provisions for the protection of privacy.1

During 2004, only one lawsuit was presented to the court by the victim of a rape, whose name, address and other personal characteristics were published in the Georgian Weekly Newspaper "Kviris Palitra."2 The victim of the crime has motioned the court to hold closed hearings. The court heard the case in closed hearings; however, it released the final judgment to the press. The court has relied on the provision of the Criminal Proceedings Code, under which all the judgments are public, even though the hearing was held in camera.3 District court ruled in favor of the applicant and obliged the newspaper and journalist to pay GEL 5,000 for moral damages. The Supreme Court has affirmed the judgment. However neither district court nor Supreme Court explored the obligation of the court, which heard the case, to protect the privacy of the victim.

Recent developments

The International Organization for Migration has developed "Personnel Identification and Reporting System (PIRS) Border Management/Passport Control/Anti-Terrorism" software specifically for Georgia. PIRS software allows border guard officers to scan traveler passports into a computer system. The PIRS software has been tested and adopted at the Tbilisi Airport and Red Bridge Port of Entry. With funding and equipment from the US Government, the PIRS system will be extended nationwide.4

As new types of passports, including those with biometric data, are being implemented across Georgia, the Civil Registry Agency of the Justice Ministry of Georgia is adding citizens' photographs to its electronic database. The database currently contains 400,000 records; however, the Civil Registry Agency plans to include 4.5 million photos in the database by 2008.5

The Struggle against Narcotic Crime Act came into force in August 2007. According to the law, drug addicts will be denied driver's licenses and will be barred from working in medical, legal or pedagogical practice. They also will not be able to work in governmental organizations, and will not have the right to run in elections.6

An amendment to the Criminal Code added the crime of cyber terrorism. Cyber terrorism is defined as "illegal acquisition of computer information protected by law, its use or threat of use, which poses the threat of grave results, and violates public security, state strategic, political or economic interest, committed with the purpose of coercing the population and/or influencing the state agency."7 The crime is punishable with imprisonment for 10 to 15 years. The same activity resulting in death or other grave consequences is punishable with imprisonment from 10 to 20 years or a life sentence.8

Civil society advocacy work

Domestic and international human rights groups were able to operate without government restrictions.9 The government has a constructive relationship with many NGOs. This was underlined by the Parliament's decision to establish an NGO-Parliament cooperation office and the allocation of two seats in the Permanent Interagency Anti-trafficking Council to NGOs.

Liberty Institute, with financing from IREX,10 is preparing the textbook for lawyers, judges and students of law and journalism education programs on the protection of privacy. This textbook will compile decisions of the European Court of Human Rights under Article 8, decisions of the UK House of Lords, the United States Supreme Court and the Canadian Supreme Court. In addition, it will include the explanatory notes on Article 8 of the ECHR and documents of the European Union on Data Protection. Liberty Institute is promoting discussion in this field and lobbying for adoption of relevant legislation in order to guarantee effective mechanisms for protection of privacy in Georgia.