Public records laws exist to allow us to see into the decision-making of our government. When bureaucrats make efforts to obscure our view into their actions, it serves only to undermine government officials’ accountability. It also diminishes the public’s understanding of, and faith in, democracy.
The right to information is vital for preventing corruption. When citizens can access key facts and data from governments, it is more difficult to hide abuses of power and other illegal activities - governments can be held accountable. Access to information also empowers citizens by informing their voting, giving them a chance to speak out against injustice and ensuring they know their rights. In Mexico, when communities denied healthcare and education learnt that they had a right to these services they fought to access them. The value of access to information is recognised around the world and there are many countries where, both on paper and in practice, the right to information is a reality. Nearly 120 countries have laws to enable it, however this doesn’t necessarily mean that citizens can get important government data in all of these countries.