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Laws and Regulations on Information

The right to information (RTI) gives every person the right to obtain information, data, or documents from government bodies without having to give reasons. In 2018, RTI laws were passed in the Seychelles, Fiji, Luxembourg, Morocco , and St Kitts and Nevis. 90% of the world’s population now lives in a country with a RTI law or policy; 121 countries have adopted comprehensive laws, 6 with degrees and 90 with constitutional guarantees.

Seventy-nine countries are now part of the Open Government Partnership, which works to promote accountable, responsive, and inclusive governance. [1]   The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative – a global standard for governing oil, gas, and mineral resources by opening up data – now has 52 implementing countries.[2]

Another bright spot was the Escazú Agreement, which was signed by 14 countries in Latin America and represented a huge step forward for transparency in the region. Part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals process, it increases access to justice and information and improves protection of environmental defenders.

Comprehensive laws for the protection of whistleblowers were passed in Guyana, Latvia, and Moldova. The EU proposed a package of measures to strengthen whistleblower protection in April 2018, which was approved in 2019. These measures shield whistleblowers from retaliation, creating ‘safe channels’ to report breaches of EU law.[3]

European Standards on Data Protection Force Change Further Afield

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) entered into force in May 2018, setting a global standard.

While these are not the first rules on data protection in the world (or even in the EU), they are directly applicable in 28 EU Member States, and set new high standards that are forcing improvements in domestic legislation globally; for example, in Brazil, Tunisia, and Kenya.

The free flow of data between EU countries and the rest of the world is now conditional upon the development of good practices, oriented towards offering data protection of a standard equivalent to the one the GDPR sets.

GDPR provisions also forced positive change towards privacy standards in the global Whois database, where the names and personal information of a website’s registrant are stored. In 2018, the database became private by default.

Data-protection laws were also passed in Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil, Lebanon, St Kitts and Nevis, and Tajikistan.

Corruption Crises and Cronyism Intersect with Protection Issues

As populism rises worldwide, so do corruption and cronyism – 40% of populist leaders are indicted on corruption charges.[4]

Those who benefit from webs of corruption are motivated to not only hold onto power but also silence those who question that power or investigate their finances. See p.x for more on Europe’s corruption crisis and its violent effects on journalists.

 

 

[1] ARTICLE 19 monitoring – internal document

[2] Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, 2019 Factsheet, September 2019, available at https://eiti.org/sites/default/files/documents/eiti_factsheet_en_09.2019.pdf

[3] Transparency International, Whistleblower Protection in the European Union, 2018, available at https://transparency.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Transparency-International-Position-paper-EU-Whistleblower-Directive-003.pdf

[4] Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, cited in Transparency International, Corruption Perception Index 2018, available at https://www.transparency.org/cpi2018

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