The People’s Right to Know and State Secrecy

Dorota Mokrosinska at the Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence: “Among the classic arguments which advocates of open government use to fight government secrecy is the appeal to a “people’s right to know.” I argue that the employment of this idea as a conceptual weapon against state secrecy misfires. I consider two prominent arguments commonly invoked to support the people’s right to know government-held information: an appeal to human rights and an appeal to democratic citizenship. While I concede that both arguments ground the people’s right to access government information, I argue that they also limit this right and in limiting it, they establish a domain of state secrecy. The argument developed in the essay provides a novel interpretation of Dennis Thompson’s claim, who in his seminal work on the place of secrecy in democratic governance, has argued that some of the best reasons for secrecy are the same reasons that argue for openness and against secrecy….(More)”.