Freedom of information

Freedom of information is freedom of a person or people to publish and consume information. Access to information is the ability for an individual to seek, receive and impart information effectively. This sometimes includes "scientific, indigenous, and traditional knowledge; freedom of information, building of open knowledge resources, including open Internet and open standards, and open access and availability of data; preservation of digital heritage; respect for cultural and linguistic diversity, such as fostering access to local content in accessible languages; quality education for all, including lifelong and e-learning; diffusion of new media and information literacy and skills, and social inclusion online, including addressing inequalities based on skills, education, gender, age, race, ethnicity, and accessibility by those with disabilities; and the development of connectivity and affordable ICTs, including mobile, the Internet, and broadband infrastructures".[1][2]

Free Speech Flag, from the HD DVD AACS case.

Public access to government information, including through the open publication of information, and formal freedom of information laws, is widely considered an important basic component of democracy and integrity in government.[3]

Michael Buckland defines six types of barriers that have to be overcome in order for access to information to be achieved: identification of the source, availability of the source, price of the user, cost to the provider, cognitive access, acceptability.[4] While "access to information", "right to information", "right to know" and "freedom of information" are sometimes used as synonyms, the diverse terminology does highlight particular (albeit related) dimensions of the issue.[1]

Freedom of information is related to freedom of expression, which can apply to any medium, be it oral, writing, print, electronic, or through art forms. This means that the protection of freedom of speech as a right includes not only the content, but also the means of expression.[5] Freedom of information is a separate concept which sometimes comes into conflict with the right to privacy in the content of the Internet and information technology. As with the right to freedom of expression, the right to privacy is a recognized human right and freedom of information acts as an extension to this right.[6] The government of the United Kingdom has theorised it as being an extension of freedom of speech, and a fundamental human right.[7] It is recognized in international law. The international and United States Pirate Party have established political platforms based largely on freedom of information issues.[8]


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