A Recent Exploration of Accessing Public Sector Information

Author:Gábor Szalay
Position:LL.M. (Tilburg). Doctoral candidate - Faculty of Law, University of Pécs
Gábor Szalay
A Recent Exploration of Accessing
Public Sector Information
Theoretical and Legal Background, with a Special Focus on
by Gábor Szalay*
© 2018 Gábor Szalay
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Recommended citation: Gáb or Szalay, A Recent Exploration of Acce ssing Public Sector Informati on: Theoretical and Le gal
Background, with a Spec ial Focus on Hungary, 9 (2018) JIPITEC 282 para 1.
Keywords: Governmental transparency; freedom of information; right to access public sector information;
freedom of expression; fundamental rights; open government policies
cally, the right to access public sector information at
international and European Union levels, as well as
the development and current situation in Hungary.
As a result of the regulatory attitude and policies
shown in recent years, the right to access public sec-
tor information has been weakened in Hungary, thus
the specific aim of the article is to highlight certain
amendments that have been made to related laws
and examine them in light of the theoretical foun-
dations, as well as their possible adverse effects ex-
erted on the pursuit towards increased governmen-
tal transparency.
Abstract: The rapid technological advance-
ments we are witnessing have undoubtedly had a
great impact on several aspects regarding freedom
of information, and the concept of increased govern-
mental transparency on a global scale seems to be
inevitable. But how can certain states, governments
and societies cope with these new possibilities and
challenges? Do state authorities worry about the
weakening of their information monopoly? The au-
thor wishes to introduce ideas related to these ques-
tions through providing an examination of the theo-
retical and legal background and case law related to
the concept of freedom of information; more specifi-
A. Introduction
1 The emergence of the right to access public sector
information in the late twentieth and early twenty-
rst century can be characterised as a necessary tool
in many ways. For example, it enables citizens to have
sufcient oversight over their government’s activities
and monitor and participate in public affairs more
efciently, sheds light on possible government abuse
of power, and increases the effective functioning of
democratic systems in general, in addition to other
related features and theoretical concepts aimed at
increased governmental transparency, which will be
introduced in detail by the paper.
Accessing public sector information is especially
vital if the questions to which we seek answers
include public entities exerting perceptible effects
on our society and daily life through their activities
and management of public funds. If we take into
consideration the social contract theory, developed
in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by
scholars such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Hugo Grotius,
Immanuel Kant, John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, and
by virtue of which us, the people authorised such
entities to act on our behalf and organise, regulate
and manage our society and public funds, the role
of implementing this fundamental right in practice
increases even further.

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