Banned books and other forms of censorship

On the banning of books, censorship and other freedom of access issues

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Privacy International survey released

The U.K. based Privacy International has released its report on Freedom of Information Around the World 2006: a Global Survey of Access to Government Information Laws, David Banisar being the primary author/researcher. A wide range of countries have adopted some form of freedom of information legislation, ranging from western democracies to some of the most repressive regimes of the world, such as Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe. In the case of Uzbekistan, Banisar says freedom of access to government information exists in its legal proclamation but not in reality (as the legislation is full of double-speak); while in Zimbabwe the government uses FOI legislation to enhance its repression, by giving "the government extensive powers to control the media and suppress free speech by requiring the registration of journalists and prohibiting the 'abuse of free expression.'"

Regarding the United States, Banisar says there has been a substantial expansion of classification in recent years, while "declassification has substantially decreased with only 28.4 million pages released in 2004 (down 34 percent from 2003);" and that over 55,000 pages of previously declassified documents were reclassified. He also notes that while 1986 legislation requires companies to inform the federal government when they release of toxic chemicals into the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency has "proposed reducing the amount of information available by making the reporting bi-annual and increasing the threshold for chemicals that need to be reported."

Note: This report is nearly 3 MB in PDF format. To view the press release and summary, click here.

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