is an Act of Parliament of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that creates a public "right of access" to information held by public authorities.
For those who don’t know how it works, like me when I heard of it for the first time, it is based on a simple principle of trust and transparency. You ask, the Government responds.
The idea is that clear, but the procedure can be tricky. There are a number of bureaucratic obstacles, and often you will see your request rejected because of national security, or because the text you have sent was inaccurate or convolute.
So, hypotetically, the public authority could dodge the regulation without serious consequences. As a journalist (or particularly stubborn citizen) you can appeal until trial, but most people would probably give up well before.
But, slightly surprisingly for the Italian spectator, accustomed to look at the public administration as a hurdle, this doesn’t happen so often. Instead, the public officer is usually a person who really believes in what he does and tries to help you the most.
Here lays the beauty of this system, which is based upon mutual trust between citizens and public institutions.
The law and the regulations are in place, but they can work only thanks to adminstration’s honesty and people’s trust.
Sometimes I wonder if such an agreement could be possible in Italy. I doubt it; and not even because of bad faith, but above all because the public administration is deeply disorganized.
However, in Italy there is an association which claims the adoption of Freedom of Information Act. And the more I dig into this topic, the more I discover we have a number of different regulations supporting transparency and open data in the country.
I wouldn’t have thought so, given Italy has one of the worst situations in the world in terms of press freedom.
However, it’s good to know that some regulation designed for the common good does actually exist also in my troubled country.