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Resolution of Canada’s Access to Information and Privacy Commissioners
September 1, 2010 – Whitehorse, Yukon
Calls for greater openness
and transparency are exerting increasing pressure on governments to
transform their traditional, reactive information dissemination methods
into a mode that facilitates proactive disclosure. Furthermore, governments
around the world are recognizing the value of sharing information with
the public in accessible, open formats. They understand that collaborating
with citizens, businesses and non-government organizations to enrich
their information resources improves communication channels, promotes
citizen engagement, instils trust in government, fosters economic opportunities
and ultimately results in more open and responsive democratic government.
Technology now affords public
institutions the opportunity to directly engage citizens, to proactively
disclose information and to support the renewal of the social contract
between government and citizens.
Open government is linked to
access to information legislation. However, it extends the concepts
inherent in these laws to promote an entirely new way of viewing the
role of government and the participation of citizens in it. While access
to information provides a right of access to government information,
the laws are fundamentally reactive because access is granted only after
a request is made.
Access to information and privacy
commissioners are advocates for open government and promote the paradigm
shift from reactive to proactive disclosure, and ultimately to open
The basic tenets of a sound
open government strategy are:
governments at all levels to lead a cultural change conducive to
open government. Governments should anchor the principles in statutory
and policy instruments that provide clear objectives, assign responsibility
and accountability, and prescribe specific timeframes. Governments should
develop robust programs to ensure that access mechanisms are built into
the design and implementation stages of all new programs and services
to facilitate and enhance proactive disclosure of information. The instruments
should also include due consideration for privacy, confidentiality,
security, Crown copyright and all relevant laws.
- Participation of
the public through ongoing, broad-based public consultations.
Governments should consult the public to determine what information
they need to assess their accountability. Consultation should become
the basis for establishing priorities for the disclosure and exploitation
of information resources.
and reusable information. This means that information should be
disseminated free or at minimal cost, and supported by data structures
to assist in the discovery, understanding and interpretation of the
information. It should be provided in open standard formats that are
adaptable and reusable. Governments should also collaborate with and
encourage citizens, businesses and non-government organizations to participate
in the development and maximize the use of technology to enrich their
IN THIS CONTEXT, CANADA’S
ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND PRIVACY COMMISSIONERS (“COMMISSIONERS”)
RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:
- The Commissioners endorse
and promote open government as a means to enhance transparency and accountability
which are essential features of good governance and critical elements
of an effective and robust democracy.
- The Commissioners call on
the federal and all provincial and territorial governments to declare
the importance of open government, including specific commitments for
stronger standards for transparency and participation by the public.
- Governments should build
access mechanisms into the design and implementation stages of all new
programs and services to facilitate and enhance proactive disclosure
- Through ongoing consultations
with the public, governments should routinely identify data sources
and proactively disclose information in open, accessible and reusable
formats. Public access to information should be provided free or at
- In implementing open government
policies, the federal and all provincial and territorial governments
should give due consideration to privacy, confidentiality, security,
Crown copyright and all relevant laws.
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