Shortcomings, controversies of Brazil's new information access law

Two days after the Brazilian information access law went into effect, the Forum on the Right of Access to Public Information (FDAIP in Portuguese) published a recounting of the law's shortcomings and controversies.

On Wednesday, May 16, the first day the law went into effect, the Comptroller General received more than 700 public information requests, reported the newspaper Folha de São Paulo. Although the federal government already had prepared a system to receive the requests, some states and cities still do not have a regulated system via which people can access information, reported the portal G1.

One controversial issue in the decree signed by President Dilma Rousseff is related to making public officials' salaries public. The Confederation of Workers of the Federal Public Service criticized this measure, according to the newspaper O Globo. The FDAIP, however, considers this to be a worthy measure because it puts the right to public information above the right to privacy.

The fact that Brazil has not created a specific body responsible for information access and monitoring is another shortcoming for the new law, said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archives of the University of George Washington, in an interview with the newspaper Estado de São Paulo.

Previously, the Canadian political scientist Gregory Michener said during an interview with Globo that the information obtained through the Brazilian law will be of little use because of dependent relationships that exist between media and state and local governments.

The Right of Access to Public Information Forum also criticized the lack of publication of Brazilian authorities' complete agendas, which it considers a very important issue for the control of society. Nevertheless, many entities and Brazilian states already regulated access to the governmental authorities' complete agendas, such as the Health Ministry, the Foreign Relations Ministry, and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Company, according to the these entities' websites.