IFLA Statement on Government Provision of Public Legal Information in the Digital Age (2016)

IFLA Statement

“In the digital age, many governments now provide online versions of primary sources of law, including statutes, case law, and regulations, directly to citizens. This can make it possible for the public to have equitable and continuous access to these resources, assuming wide and affordable Internet access.
Nonetheless, simply posting legal information online is not enough. Government providers also need to take responsibility for ensuring that the content they post is available to all1, at no fee2, that the content is authentic and trustworthy”

Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and agreements.

70 countries have signed the Open Government Declaration, which commits them to upholding the principles of open and transparent government, while the 2002 Montreal Declaration set out that freely accessible legal information is “part of the common heritage of humanity” and is essential to the rights and obligations of members of a just society. Access to public legal information “promotes justice and the rule of law.”

As these agreements indicate, no-fee online access to legal information benefits both public users and the government by enhancing engagement and facilitating citizen participation in policy-making.

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