Essentials of the Right of Access to Public Information: An Introduction

Introduction by Blanke, Hermann-Josef and Perlingeiro, Ricardo in the book “The Right of Access to Public Information : An International Comparative Legal Survey”: “The first freedom of information law was enacted in Sweden back in 1766 as the “Freedom of the Press and the Right of Access to Public Records Act”. It sets an example even today. However, the “triumph” of the freedom of information did not take place until much later. Many western legal systems arose from the American Freedom of Information Act, which was signed into law by President L.B. Johnson in 1966. This Act obliges all administrative authorities to provide information to citizens and imposes any necessary limitations. In an exemplary manner, it standardizes the objective of administrative control to protect citizens from government interference with their fundamental rights. Over 100 countries around the world have meanwhile implemented some form of freedom of information legislation. The importance of the right of access to information as an aspect of transparency and a condition for the rule of law and democracy is now also becoming apparent in international treaties at a regional level. This article provides an overview on the crucial elements and the guiding legal principles of transparency legislation, also by tracing back the lines of development of national and international case-law….(More)”.