There is a huge discrepancy around the world when you consider how freely people can access information. It’s something that those in many western countries take for granted – we are able to use a variety of resources in order to access any information we wish, within reason. But that isn’t the same around the world.
And on 28th September, the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) aims to highlight these problems, striving to ensure that everyone around the world can access vital data and information to help them in their lives, without prejudice or biased restriction.
Origins of the Day
The International Day for Universal Access to Information, informally referred to as Access to Information Day, replaced the International Right to Know Day which was established in 2002.
That day was developed from 2012 onwards by civil society advocates around the world, before the new day was proclaimed by the United Nations in 2019.
This is not some haphazard ‘international day’ put together as part of a marketing campaign – it is a serious and notable day where events are held to further the world’s access to information, and address where there is further support needed for citizens who may have their information access suppressed.
Why Is It Needed?
The day was formed based on the ‘Right to Know’ – the idea that people should have the power to gain information that lets them participate in any decisions that affect them with the necessary information, so that they are making those decisions with suitable context and knowledge.
It also means giving people the information they need to hold others accountable, particularly their governments.
In real terms – imagine living in a country where you were asked to work in certain conditions without being given the knowledge of what those conditions may do to your health.
Or living somewhere where your government carries out a serious crime but prevents you from learning about it, or uses propaganda to create a false picture of what happened?
And it’s even as simple as ensuring that everyone in the world is able to access ‘basic’ services online including things like banking.
This is why the Access to Information Day matters.
IDUAI and GDPR
While access to information is important, so too is privacy. Ensuring that you have the rights to access the information that is relevant to you, and that your data isn’t mistreated, is currently protected in the UK by GDPR laws.
There is a balance to be struck. You should have access to a company’s records about you, but that company also has to prevent access to your information from employees who don’t require it, or from outsiders.
You could hardly ring up a company and ask about your neighbour’s personal information, could you?
So GDPR will continue to define the rules that guarantee we can access information in the UK that is relevant to us, but also protect our personal data too.
As you can imagine, this whole topic is fascinating and very important for private investigators. It helps to establish the information we should have access to, and that which we legally should not, when we conduct our investigations. And if you want to learn more about IDUAI, and why it is so important to many countries around the world, you can do so at the UNESCO International Day for Universal Access to Information website.