Right to Information

Right to Information and Transparency

The resources on this Module explore the nature and extent of the right to information.The readings include standards on the right to access government held information, open court and open parliament.

10 items found, showing 11 - 10

Open Court

Author: UNICEF, Carly Nyst, Amaya Gorostiaga, and Patrick Geary
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“The Guidelines for Industry on Child Online Protection, published by UNICEF and the International Telecommunications Union in 2015, explore the corporate responsibility to respect children’s rights in a digital world. This Toolkit builds on these Guidelines, expanding the consideration of children’s rights to privacy and freedom of expression. It identifies five overarching principles, based in international human rights law, that should ground and shape decisions about children online. These General Principles may be translated into practical action through the Checklist that follows, which offers questions and recommendations for companies to assess how children’s privacy and expression rights are considered across their websites, platforms, products, services and applications. The General Principles and Checklist were developed by UNICEF in consultation with a diverse range of stakeholders from the public and private sectors, academia and civil society. UNICEF continues to advocate for the full realization of children’s rights, including the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. It is hoped that this Toolkit prompts greater respect for children’s rights in a digital world.”

UNICEF, Carly Nyst, Amaya Gorostiaga, and Patrick Geary. “Industry Toolkit: Children’s Online Privacy and Freedom of Expression”. 2018. https://sites.unicef.org/csr/files/UNICEF_Childrens_Online_Privacy_and_Freedom_of_Expression(1).pdf

Author: Shannon M. Oltmann
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“Freedom of speech encompasses not only a right to express oneself but also a right to access information. This right is particularly pertinent to libraries, whose mission is often focused on enabling and expanding access to information. Libraries can support this activity with a theoretical background that draws upon the three predominant jurisprudential theories of freedom of speech: the marketplace of ideas, democratic ideals, and individual autonomy. In this article, each of these theories is explained and then applied to the library context, creating a starting place for further investigation and application of these judicial theories to information access.”

Oltmann, Shannon M. “Intellectual Freedom and Freedom of Speech: Three Theoretical Perspectives”. Information Science Faculty Publications (2016): 153-171.

Author: United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the Organization of American States Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression
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On 30 April 2020, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the Organization of American States Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression published the Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Elections in the Digital Age. The Declaration enumerates recommendations regarding communication during elections for both, State as well as non-State actors. In pursuance of the publication of this Declaration, Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy, noted, “The Joint Declaration breaks new ground in several respects…Some key areas it addresses include extending certain types of rules which apply to legacy media, such as on spending and transparency, to digital media, respecting the right to privacy when using personal data to micro-target messages and, for digital actors, avoiding measures which limit the diversity of information available to users or the ability of certain parties and candidates to disseminate messages.”

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the Organization of American States Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. “Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Elections in the Digital Age”. 2020. https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Opinion/JointDeclarationDigitalAge_30April2020_EN.pdf.

Author: UNESCO, Andrew Puddephatt
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“This brief comes as part of the UNESCO series ‘World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development’. It presents enhancing transparency as a third way between state overregulation of content, which has led to disproportionate restrictions on human rights, and a laissez-faire approach that has failed to effectively address problematic content such as hate speech and disinformation. It discusses how greater transparency in the operations of internet companies could strengthen freedom of expression and other issues central to UNESCO’s work, and it outlines existing mechanisms and initiatives. The brief sets out a preliminary selection of illustrative high-level principles, which could serve as a basis for future discussions towards a framework for transparency to guide companies, policy makers and regulators.”

UNESCO, Andrew Puddephatt. “Letting the Sun Shine In: Transparency and Accountability in the Digital Age”. 2021. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000377231

Author: Mark Pearson
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This interview, conducted by Mark Pearson with Dirk Voorhoof, provides insights into the manner in which freedom of expression operates internationally as well as regionally. Pearson and Voorhoof discuss the different levels of and multiple approaches to free expression and their breaches by training on them a comparative lens. Voorhoof’s responses focus on the jurisprudence of the ECtHR, in particular, to highlight the limitative nature of the cases in which the freedom of expression can be restricted, arguing that such jurisprudence urges States to upgrade their freedom of expression, particularly for the media and journalists. They also delve into the explicit recognition of the right to information and its pivotal nature as a tool in democracies, which enables actors such as the media and CSOs to fulfil their duties as public watchdogs.

Pearson, Mark. "Media Law: Free Expression." 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpQDCy_d5rE.

Author: Kate Jones
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“There is a widespread desire to tackle online interference with elections and political discourse. To date, much of the debate has focused on what processes should be established without adequate consideration of what norms should underpin those processes. Human rights law should be at the heart of any discussion of regulation, guidance, corporate or societal responses. The UN Secretary- General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation has recently reached a similar conclusion, stating ‘there is an urgent need to examine how time-honoured human rights frameworks and conventions should guide digital cooperation and digital technology’. This paper attempts to contribute to this examination. Chapter 2 of this paper clarifies terms and concepts discussed. Chapter 3 provides an overview of cyber activities that may influence voters. Chapter 4 summarizes a range of responses by states, the EU and digital platforms themselves. Chapter 5 discusses relevant human rights law, with specific reference to: the right to freedom of thought, and the right to hold opinions without interference; the right to privacy; the right to freedom of expression; and the right to participate in public affairs and vote. Chapter 6 offers some conclusions, and sets out recommendations on how human rights ought to guide state and corporate responses.”

Kate Jones. “Online Disinformation and Political Discourse: Applying a Human Rights Framework”. 2019. https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/2019-11-05-Online-Disinformation-Human-Rights.pdf

Author: UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression (David Kaye)
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“The United Nations does not have an access-to-information policy that applies to every department and specialized agency; it does not even have ad hoc standards to provide a response to access-to-information requests. For the central global political institution, one that serves the public interest across a range of subject matters, this is intolerable. But the United Nations is not alone. While freedom of information policies have been introduced worldwide, international organizations, with a few specific exceptions, have not followed suit. The present report provides an assessment of the state of access to information with regard to the activities of international organizations. It urges all international organizations, especially the United Nations, to adopt robust freedom of information policies, with specific recommendations to organizations, Member States and civil society.”

UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye. Report on Access to Information in International Organizations. A/72/350. August 2017.

Author: European Parliament Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs
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“This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, aims at finding the balance between regulatory measures to tackle disinformation and the protection of freedom of expression. It explores the European legal framework and analyses the roles of all stakeholders in the information landscape. The study offers recommendations to reform the attention-based, data-driven information landscape and regulate platforms’ rights and duties relating to content moderation.” 

European Parliament Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs. “The Fight against Disinformation and the Right to Freedom of Expression”. 2021. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2021/695445/IPOL_STU(2021)695445_EN.pdf.

Author: ARTICLE 19
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“The Global Expression Report is a global, data-informed, annual look at freedom of expression worldwide. With the benefit of data and hindsight, we take a look at 2020 – how this fundamental right fared, what the key trends were, and how global events affected its exercise. The Global Expression Report’s metric (the GxR Metric) tracks freedom of expression across the world. In 161 countries, 25 indicators were used to create an overall freedom of expression score for every country, on a scale of 1 to 100 which places it in an expression category. The GxR reflects not only the rights of journalists and civil society but also how much space there is for each of us – as individuals and members of organisations – to express and communicate; how free each and every person is to post online, to march, to research, and to access the information we need to participate in society and hold those with power to account. This report covers expression’s many faces: from street protest to social media posts; from the right to information to the right to express political dissent, organise, offend, or make jokes. It also looks at the right to express without fear of harassment, legal repercussions, or violence.”

ARTICLE 19. “The Global Expression Report 2021: The State of Freedom of Expression around the World”. 2021. https://www.article19.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/A19-GxR-2021-FINAL.pdf.

Author: European Parliament (Carme Colomina, Héctor Sánchez Margalef, and Richard Youngs)
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“Around the world, disinformation is spreading and becoming a more complex phenomenon based on emerging techniques of deception. Disinformation undermines human rights and many elements of good quality democracy; but counter-disinformation measures can also have a prejudicial impact on human rights and democracy. COVID-19 compounds both these dynamics and has unleashed more intense waves of disinformation, allied to human rights and democracy setbacks. Effective responses to disinformation are needed at multiple levels, including formal laws and regulations, corporate measures and civil society action. While the EU has begun to tackle disinformation in its external actions, it has scope to place greater stress on the human rights dimension of this challenge. In doing so, the EU can draw upon best practice examples from around the world that tackle disinformation through a human rights lens. This study proposes steps the EU can take to build counter-disinformation more seamlessly into its global human rights and democracy policies.”

European Parliament (Carme Colomina, Héctor Sánchez Margalef, and Richard Youngs). “The Impact of Disinformation on Democratic Processes and Human Rights in the World”. 2021. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2021/653635/EXPO_STU(2021)653635_EN.pdf