Thursday, September 10, 2009

Guest Post ~ Jacqueline Klosek

The Importance of The Right to Know

The importance of freedom of information cannot be overstated. Public access to information held by the government is essential for effective democracies and strong societies. It is only with access to the facts held by government authorities that citizens can truly be equipped to make informed decisions about their leadership and the laws that will govern them. Governments are in place to serve the people and their actions must be clear and transparent to the populace. Secrecy breeds distrust, suspicion and, in some cases, even corruption. By contrast, open government encourages the growth of open, democratic societies.

Laws that provide for the freedom of information contribute to the development of open, democratic societies. The right of citizens to access information held by the government, first recognized in Sweden in 1766, has now been recognized in a vast number of countries all over the world. Since this initial legislation, the right to know spread to other countries relatively slowly, but in the past few decades, the pace of its expansion has picked up substantially. While these laws and their impact do vary considerably, their existence and the growth of freedom of information on a global legal is a very positive development for the growth and strength of democracy.

My recently published book, The Right to Know: Your Guide to Using and Defending Freedom of Information Law in the United States, is a resource book for citizens seeking to understand, use, and defend their right to know their rights under the freedom of information laws in the United States. It sets out in plain language freedom-of-information best practices for ordinary citizens, activist organizations, journalists, bloggers, and lawyers. It educes practical lessons from dozens of case studies of how the reader can use our freedom of information laws in order to protect the environment, public health and safety and to expose governmental crime, waste, and corruption. Finally, it shows American readers how their right to know is being progressively curtailed, why the trend is so dangerous to American democracy, and what they can do to help reverse this alarming trend.

About the author ~

Jacqueline Klosek is Senior Counsel with Goodwin Procter LLP and is the author of the recently published, The Right to Know. She is the author of three other books (War on Privacy; The Legal Guide to eBusiness; and Data Privacy in the Information Age) and is currently working on a fifth book, a work that will examine privacy in health information. Klosek may be reached at: or through her web site at:

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