06 January 2020

In November 2019 the "Capital" newspaper sought information on the electronic vignettes sold and the road fees collected by the Road Infrastructure Agency (RIA) via the Agency's websites. The RIA provided data from the state website only, but refused to disclose data on the services carried out by the private provider "Intelligent Traffic Systems" (ITS).

In the end of November the Administrative Court Sofia-City (ACSC) overturned the Agency's refusal to provide information on the number of e-vignettes sold through the websites www.vinetki.bg and www.a1.bg and their value. The court found that RIA's refusal was grounded on the fact that the third party refused to grant consent with the provision of the information /Art. 37, para. 1 item 2 of Access to Public Information Act (APIA)/ on the grounds that the latter is confidential. The refusal of the third party to provide the requested information may be overcomed by the existence of overriding public interest.

The requested information undoubtedly counts as "public", insofar as it is generated and stored by an entity obliged under the APIA in connection with the reported performance of a contract for the provision of additional services for the operation of points of sale by an electronic toll collection service provider. The information claimed is related to the amount of the sales of vignettes that should be invested in the construction and repair of the national road network. This very circumstance determines the transparency and accessibility of the information sought - which is the main purpose of the APIA. The information sought is inevitably of public interest, and insofar citizens are part of society, they have the right of access to information that is of public concern.