Access to Information in the Nordic Countries

A comparison of the laws of Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland and international rules

Principles of freedom of information require authorities and other public agencies to provide access to authentic documents and data. The demand for authenticity is the raison d’être of the right-of-access principle.
This publication Access to Information in the Nordic Countries explains and compares the legal rules determining public access to documents and data in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. In addition, international rules emanating from the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Union are elucidated.
Free access to public records is crucial to democratic control and participation. Rules of law and legal practice concerning  access and secrecy are of far-reaching significance to all sectors of society and to the relation- ship between citizens and the state.
Access to Information in the Nordic Countries demonstrates that, in the five Nordic countries, right-of-access rules are very different and show no consistent pattern. A country with the best conditions in some areas may have poor conditions in others.
This publication in English is based on a more comprehensive version in Danish published in Nordicom-Information No 3/2014, Nordicom, University of Gothenburg.

1. The scope
2. The legal basis
3. Authorities and tasks
4. Documents and registers
5. Access in various forms
6. Public or confidential information
7. Working processes and decision-making processes
8. Procedures and reviews
9. The varied Nordic openness
10. International developments
11. The purpose of the rules on access to information

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