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Freedom of Information in Chile

The Committee on Communications and Media Law and the Vance Center for International Justice submitted an amicus brief in the Matter of the Constitutionality of Section 2 of Article 5 of the Access to Public Information Law to the Constitutional Tribunal of the Republic of Chile. The case concerns a request under Chile’s freedom of information laws for access to certain e-mails sent to and from Chilean government e-mail addresses. This submission provides an overview of how U.S. freedom of information laws have been interpreted with regard to electronic communications, in the hope that it might be of assistance to the Constitutional Tribunal in its deliberations in this case. The brief notes that the purpose of the U.S. freedom of information laws is to promote the fundamental principle that citizens have a right to access their government’s public documents, while balancing the government’s ability to operate and privacy of governmental employees. Although there is variation in transparency laws across the fifty states and the U.S. federal government, there is a strong presumption in favor of disclosure and a clear trend in favor of public disclosure of government communications involving official business, whether or not those communications are in electronic or physical form and made to or from government computer systems.