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Freedom of Information Legislation

Bullet pointAustralian Freedom of Information Act 1982
Bullet pointNew South Wales Freedom of Information Act
Bullet pointIntroduction to the US Freedom of Information Act 1998
Bullet pointEuropean Council Directive on Freedom of Information
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Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy
Bullet pointWhy Britain needs a Freedom of Information Act



 Principle of Access to Information

Minimum Elements of the Principle

  • Information is accessible, unless it falls within one of the grounds for refusal.
  • No showing of interest is required.
  • Information should be provided in the form requested.
  • Responses to requests should be made within 1 month.
  • Denials of requests for information shall be in writing, state the grounds for refusal, and be made generally within 1 to 2 months.
  • Grounds for refusal are to be narrowly construed, balancing the interest to be protected against the public interest.
  • Public authorities should redact confidential portions out of documents and disclose non-confidential portions, where this can be done without prejudicing the confidential information.
  • Actual copies of documents will be provided when requested.
  • Reasonable charges may be made for supplying information, subject to an established schedule.
  • Public authorities must collect and disseminate environmental information.
  • The public must be informed of their opportunities to participate in decision-making processes.

Grounds for Refusal of a Request for Information

  • The public authority does not have the information.
  • The request is manifestly unreasonable or overly general.
  • The request concerns materials being completed.
  • Disclosure would adversely affect:
  • Confidentiality of the proceedings of public authorities,
  • Internal relations, national defense, public security,
  • Confidentiality of commercial or industrial information,
  • Intellectual property rights,
  • Confidentiality of personal data,
  • The interests of a third party that has supplied the information, without that party being legally obliged to do so.

Source: Claudia Saladin & Brennan Van Dyke, 'Implementing the Principles of the Public Participation Convention in International Organizations', Background Document for NGO Session, June 1998, available URL: http://www.participate.org/publications/Implementing.pdf.

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