What are the theoretical limits on freedom of information's positive effects?


Governments are very keen to keep a lot of their work secretive, which historically has encouraged scandals, bribing, pollution, human rights violations, lobbying etc.

In what ways is information access still too limited, what parts of society could benefit from additional information access?

What are companies able to do currently with too much freedom? i.e. banks, chemical companies, multinationals, and so on, regarding taxes, resources and mismanagement, location of sweatshops, and similar issues.

What are contentious issues on which countries could positively implement information freedom, but refuse to do so?


Posted 2015-04-16T08:33:16.870

Reputation: 1 617

Question was closed 2015-05-05T22:40:09.087

2This seems like a really broad question, and I'm not sure what you're looking for in an answer. Can you try to narrow it down some? – Bobson – 2015-04-16T10:54:07.837

a summary of recent current affairs issues on freedom of information would be brilliant. Shared knowledge seems to be the future of society, i am curious as to what issues currently exist protecting multinationals and organizations from being transparent. – aliential – 2015-04-16T10:58:07.797

examples of oppositions to FOI and reading material and different perspectives would be cool. – aliential – 2015-04-16T11:02:15.400

That's still way too broad. If there's a specific question with a specific answer you want, that's good. But this isn't really a site for general discussions about a topic. They tend to be too open-ended. – Publius – 2015-04-17T22:12:37.600



As previously stated, this is a very broad list of questions. You also fluidly meld Freedom of Information concerns regarding Governments AND corporations together, as if the two are related.

Freedom of Information laws (such as the US's Freedom of Information Act) were implemented in an effort to at least give a semblance of transparency, as well as allow the general public to feel as if they can help hold their Government accountable. In reality, FOIA requests are always heavily redacted and many times ignored unless there are legal concerns (i.e. the FOIA request was submitted by a law firm that is suing the Government). To further compound the issue, there are a slew of exemptions that can be employed by the Agency that has received the request, which effectively means that IF your request is replied to, you will be told what the Agency wants to tell you. There are rarely internal processes that ensure compliance with requests, or quality control the content of requests. Also a consideration, most classified material will remain classified for anywhere from 10 to 50 years, and only a classifying authority may declassify information. The end result is that by the time the information become available, it will do you little good exempt in historical context.

Reading List: http://www.foia.gov/


5 U.S. Code § 552

Corporations are overall exempt from disclosing most information, except to Governing Agencies (i.e. the FCC, FAA) and Subpoena. Public record requirements vary by State, but are usually available via the State Attorney General's Office. Accountability is maintained via the Court System (lawsuits) and consumer advocacy groups, such as the Better Business Bureau.

In both of these cases, any transparency that may ensue from Information Disclosure will be suspect, due to the difficulty in enforcing and verifying said disclosure. Reference current issues regarding the IRS (lois Lerner) and the State Department (Hillary Clinton), as well as Google's legal battle in Europe. It is also common to use "disclosures" as disinformation, effectively providing a smokescreen under the guise of transparency.


Posted 2015-04-16T08:33:16.870

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