COVID - 19

Access to Information in the context of a global pandemic Statement

14 April 2020

The impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) brings unprecedented challenges for our society, both nationally and globally.

Public authorities must make significant decisions that affect public health, civil liberties and people’s prosperity.

The public’s right to access information about such decisions is vital.

As a global community, we recognise that resources may be diverted away from usual information rights work. Public organisations will rightly focus their resources on protecting public health, and we recognise our role in taking a pragmatic approach, for example around how quickly public bodies respond to requests.

But the importance of the right to access information remains.

Public bodies must also recognise the value of clear and transparent communication, and of good record-keeping, in what will be a much analysed period of history.

As an international network, the International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC) supports a flexible approach that takes into account the compelling public interest in the current health emergency, while safeguarding the values of the right to access information. We ask governments to support this vision.

We add our support and gratitude to those who are dedicated to tackling the current pandemic.

The signatories:

ICIC Members

  • Alberta (Canada) – Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner
  • Argentina – Agencia de Acceso a la Información Pública
  • Australia – Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
  • Bermuda – Information Commissioner’s Office
  • Brazil – Controladoria-Geral da União (CGU)
  • Buenos Aires (Argentina) – Órgano Garante del Derecho de Acceso a la Información
  • Catalonia (Spain) – Síndic de Greuges de Catalunya
  • Cayman Islands – Ombudsman
  • Chile – Consejo para la Transparencia
  • Coahuila (Mexico) – Instituto Coahuilense de Acceso a la Informacion Publica
  • Germany – Der Bundesbeauftragte für den Datenschutz und die Informationsfreiheit
  • Gibraltar – Gibraltar Regulatory Authority
  • Guatemala – Procuraduría de los Derechos Humanos de Guatemala
  • Hungary – Nemzeti Adatvédelmi és Információszabadság Hatóság (NAIH)
  • Isle of Man – Information Commissioner
  • Israel – Freedom of Information Unit – היחידה הממשלתית לחופש המידע
  • Kenya – Commission on Administrative Justice (Office of the Ombudsman)
  • Mexico – Instituto Nacional de Transparencia, Acceso a la Información y Protección de Datos Personales (INAI)
  • Morocco – Commission du Droit d’Accès à l’Information
  • Nepal – National Information Commission
  • Nova Scotia (Canada) – Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia
  • Peru – Autoridad Nacional de Transparencia y Acceso a la Información Pública de Perú
  • Punjab (Pakistan) – Punjab Information Commission
  • The Philippines – Freedom of Information – Project Management Office
  • Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany) – Landesbeauftragte für den Datenschutz und die Informationsfreiheit – Rheinland-Pfalz
  • Scotland – Scottish Information Commissioner
  • Serbia – Poverenik za informacije od javnog značaja i zaštitu podataka o ličnosti
  • Sierra Leone – Right to Access Information Commission
  • South Africa – Information Regulator (South Africa)
  • Spain – Consejo de Transparencia y Buen Gobierno
  • Switzerland – Préposé fédéral à la protection des données et à la transparence (PFPDT)
  • Tunisia – Instance Nationale d’Acces a l’Information
  • United Kingdom – Information Commissioner’s Office
  • United States – Office of Government Information Services – National Archives and Records Administration
  • Western Australia – Office of the Information Commissioner
  • Yukon (Canada) – Information and Privacy Commissioner

Non-ICIC members

  • Andalusia (Spain) – Consejo de Transparencia y Protection de Datos de Andalucia
  • Croatia – Povjerenik za Informiranje
  • Ireland – Office of the Ombudsman
  • Murcia (Spain) – Consejo de la Transparencia
  • South Australian Ombudsman

The ICIC issued two joint statements, ‘ICIC – Access to information in the context of global pandemic COVID-19’ and ‘COVID-19: The duty to document does not cease in a crisis, it becomes more essential’, on 14 April and 4 May 2020 respectively. To read them in full please go to the following links:

COVID-19 – resources

On 14 April 2020 the ICIC issued a statement ‘ICIC – Access to information in the context of global pandemic COVID-19’. We would like to give the opportunity to the ICIC membership and community to share their own experiences of Access to Information during a global pandemic. Please see below the various ways you can share your experiences:

We welcome the sharing of statements relevant to Access to Information that have been issued by authorities across the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic. If your authority wishes to share its statement, please email it with any other related information to the ICIC Secretariat at[email protected].

This section provides authorities with the opportunity to share methods of Best Practice currently being used during the COVID-19 global pandemic. If you authority wishes to share its Best Practices with the ICIC membership and community, please contact the ICIC Secretariat at[email protected]with further information.

This section is an opportunity for authorities to share stories or examples of their experiences of regulating during a global pandemic with the ICIC membership and community. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email the ICIC Secretariat at[email protected]with further details.