The freedom to seek, receive, and share information is one of the most important political and personal rights, which are included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 19). Right to information is one of the basic human rights, which is recognized by the international law.
The right to information, such as freedom of expression of one’s thoughts, does not depend on the media and the way information is transmitted: in print, in writing, orally, online, or in the form of art. Thus, the legal protection of this freedom applies to both the content and the means of expression. The right to information can be related to privacy on the Internet and other modern information technology.
However, the right to information may be limited, both for the protection of other rights of the individual (secrecy of correspondence and privacy) and for the protection of the public interest (restrictions during a state of emergency or war).
The public’s right to receive information from the public services, as the right to public access to government documents is included in the constitutions of many countries and is generally regarded as a sign of democracy. The implementation of the public’s right to information may be difficult without special mechanisms to ensure that right, and such laws have been adopted in more than ninety countries around the world. However, there are different understanding of the objectives, depending on the different concepts of liberal democracy.
For example, in the United Kingdom for a long time remained in effect the principle of administrative secrecy, the restriction on access to documents of the Parliament was based on the principle of the sovereignty of parliament and parliamentary privilege. With the adoption in 1989 of the “Law on State Secrets” and other legislative acts, the control over access to information was tightened, and the activity of civil servants was classified as confidential. The restrictions were eased considerably with the adoption “Right to Information Act” in 2000.
One of the basic principles to ensure the public’s right to information is to establish the burden of proof on the party obligated to provide the information. It means that the person, who requests the information must not provide reasons for the request, but the reason for reject in access to information have to be presented.
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