Freedom of information

In June 2006 nearly 70 countries had freedom of information legislations applying to information held by government bodies and in certain circumstances to private bodies. In 19 of these countries the freedom of information legislation also applied to private bodies. Access to information was increasingly recognised as a prerequisite for transparency and accountability of governments, as facilitating consumers’ ability to make informed choices, and as safeguarding citizens against mismanagement and corruption. 

This has led an increasing number of countries to enact freedom of information legislation in the past 10 years. In recent years, private bodies have started to perform functions which were previously carried out by public bodies. Privatisation and de-regulation saw banks, telecommunications companies, hospitals and universities being run by private entities, leading to demands for the extension of freedom of information legislation to cover private bodies.

Freedom of information (or information freedom) also refers to the protection of the right to freedom of expression with regard to the Internet and information technology. Freedom of information may also concern censorship in an information technology context, i.e. the ability to access Web content, without censorship or restrictions

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