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Blacked Out: Government Secrecy in the Information Age

 Author: Alasdair Roberts  Category: Access to Information, Legislation, Public Policy  Publisher: Cambridge University Press  Published: 2022  ISBN: 9780521731546  Pages: 336  Buy/Download
 Description:

In 1966 the United States Congress passed the landmark Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) giving the public the right to access government documents. This “right to know” has been used over the intervening years to challenge overreaching Presidents and secretive government agencies. This example of governmental transparency has served as an inspiring case in point to nations around the world, spawning similar statutes in fifty-nine countries. Yet, despite these global efforts to foster openness in government, secrecy still persists–and in many cases–sometimes thrives. Alasdair Roberts, a prominent lawyer, public policy expert, and international authority on transparency in government, examines the evolution of the trend toward governmental openness and how technological developments have assisted the disclosure and dissemination of information. In the process he offers a comprehensive look at the global efforts to restrict secrecy and provides readers with a clearly written guide to those areas where the battle over secrecy is most intense. Drawing on cases from many different countries, Roberts goes further than the popular view that secrecy is simply a problem of selfish bureaucrats trying to hide embarrassing information by showing how such powerful trends as privatization, globalization, and the “networking” of security agencies are complicating the fight against secrecy. In our time when new terror threats provoke potentially counter-productive measures that impede openness, the need for a thorough and dispassionate discussion of openness in democratic societies is especially acute. Written in an engaging style, Blacked Out powerfully illustrates why transparency matters and why the struggle for openness is so difficult.

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