Freedom of Information Act (FOIA; 1967)

Freedom of information laws allow access by the general public to data held by national governments and, where applicable, by state and local governments. The emergence of freedom of information legislation was a response to increasing dissatisfaction with the secrecy surrounding government policy development and decision making. In recent years Access to Information Act has also been used. They establish a "right-to-know" legal process by which requests may be made for government-held information, to be received freely or at minimal cost, barring standard exceptions. Also variously referred to as open records, or sunshine laws (in the United States), governments are typically bound by a duty to publish and promote openness. In many countries there are constitutional guarantees for the right of access to information, but these are usually unused if specific support legislation does not exist. Additionally, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16 has a target to ensure public access to information and the protection of fundamental freedoms as a means to ensure accountable, inclusive and just institutions.