UU no.14/2008 Information Openness specifically stated that there is a “people’s right to know”. This particular “right” is usually defined as the right of the public to have access to information about governmental policy and decision making. The people must have full and robust information about what their government is doing. Government secrecy is thought to lead to suspicion and a lack of confidence in public officials and their policies. The people’s right to know is transformed, however imperfectly, from an abstract principle to a reality in ‘information openness act’ that require government bodies to hold open meetings and to have their records open for public inspection.
Theoretically, government should operate in the open and should be accountable and the “right to know” would make that possible.
The invention of the right to know is a great NGOs success story of which the NGOs (and the press) can justly be proud. It begins in the early 1990s when the NGOs (and the press) felt increasingly thwarted by bureaucrats who were standing between them and government information. These NGOs (mostly activists and they called themselves ‘the people’) wanted access to government records, documents, and proceedings at both the local and national levels. This was called the Freedom of Information (FoI) movement eventually gave way to the birth of Law No.14/2008 Public Information Openness.
The Public Information Openness had many positive consequences. It brought records hidden in the closet to sunshine.