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Journalists keep reporting difficulties in access to governmental public data. Authorities responded

14 September 2021
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Journalists keep having difficulties accessing public information about companies registered in Moldova and other data of public interest on governmental platforms. Authorities acknowledge that there are problems and invite the media to identify the categories of data they would like to have access to as a matter of priority. This issue was addressed in a press club organized by the Electronic Government Agency (EGA) on September 14.

Journalist Ion Preașca, editor of the portal and member of the RISE Moldova team, mentioned during the discussion that some governmental portals do not work or generate errors on weekends, and sometimes on working days, too. According to him, some of the accessed data are outdated and cannot be used by journalists. “The information that is generated is 3-4 months old. Of course, in such cases we have to look for other solutions to confirm, for example, whether Ion Preașca is the owner of a company or is no longer the owner, because in three months ownership can change four times. It is about updating these data,” he said.

The journalist claims that he and his colleagues gave up obtaining extracts about companies from the database owned by the Public Services Agency (PSA) due to the “difficult” process. “In the past, I had a subscription, I paid monthly for services, and the PSA made some money, too. Now, we use services when we have an urgent need. The process has become so difficult under the pretext of protecting personal data. I have the impression that if we return to the old system, it would be much better for everyone,” Ion Preașca also said.

The Deputy Prime Minister for Digitization, Iurie Țurcanu, admitted that information systems in Moldova do not always operate according to the necessary parameters and that authorities are considering a new model of IT governance in terms of sustainability and quality of services provided, including government websites. According to him, such a system will be provided within 6-9 months. “I do not think I will reveal a big secret. For example, some authorities have no specialists with even the smallest qualification in IT. They also have some information resources that the public accesses and is outraged by what they see there,” Iurie Țurcanu explained.

The official claims that “today, due to processes that take an inexplicably long time in some offices, information about the changes made by economic agents and even in the state register of the population comes with a great delay.”

The EGA Director Olga Tumuruc reminded of a draft law on facilitating the access of journalists to some information from official registers, which was not promoted by the Parliament. She urged the media to come up with proposals on the data they would like to access in the first place. “My opinion is that we do not even need legislative changes to ensure access to data for journalists. All it takes is dialogue. Why? Because organizing access to data without the involvement of the data consumer is practically impossible. We need to establish this dialogue, to define together who will access the data, the way in which it will be done, and based on that to build the organizational and legal framework. Because technologically we are ready, we are prepared for journalists to have access to real-time data,” Olga Tumuruc assured.