Britain is behind much of the rest of the developed world in “freedom of information” laws.

America has had FOIA since 1966. Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and other European countries have long had “freedom of information” laws, all of which differ in their detail. Sweden was the first country in the world to enact FOIA in 1766.

The European Commission operates a code of access to information. Non-Britons can use the UK FOIA; non-American citizens can use the US FOIA; non-Irish citizens can use the Irish FOIA; and non-European citizens can use the EC access system.

In addition, British citizens can obtain information about themselves under the data protection act that would be exempt under FOIA, and, similarly, American citizens can obtain information about themselves under the US privacy act that would be exempt under FOIA.

More than 50 countries have comprehensive “freedom of information” laws, with many more working on proposals to introduce such provisions. There has been a large growth in such laws across the world in the past ten years as countries recognise their importance in properly functioning democracies.

The FOIA Centre can make requests under any “open-access” law throughout the world on behalf of clients.

To find out how we can help you with FOIA and open-access information in the UK and elsewhere, click here.


Page updated: 06.04.08