Transparency in public institutions is a fundamental aspect for a democratic society. We need to make informed decisions about how our governments are to be led, and to get that information we require transparency from our government.
We rely on the state for the services that they provide, like our national security and our welfare. All of these services are funded by citizens through taxes and are in a sense “owned” by us as citizens.
If there is no right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy.”
– Ms. Dilma Roussef, President of Brazil.
In Scandinavia, the Principle of Public Access has long been treasured as a frontrunner of openness and transparency. Indeed, Scandinavians are proud of it, and do not shy at telling others about the greatness of our system. However, it is becoming apparent that even this beloved system has flaws.
- Why does your government ask Facebook for information about you?
- How did the energy contractor get the deal for the new power plant?
- What about the spending on public information campaigns from the government?
As public authorities gather more information about citizens and actors, a correct use of that information and a restrain from collecting too much information are becoming acute issues. Recently, a few large internet companies have started producing Transparency Reports where they disclose the amount of times that governments and authorities have requested access to information about citizens. Among others, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft displayed a worrying trend of information gathering about citizens. As a measure of understanding the reasons and legality of these requests, the think-tank Fores have created a reversed transparency report, trying to get authorities to disclose what information authorities have gathered, why and what the processes for these requests look like.
This site is a continuation of that effort. We want to create a journal of public transparency, where efforts from the public to get information is registered and made public for all to see. It’s only through transparency and accountability that we can establish trust in our societies.