Parties Agree to Amend Danish Access Statute

5 October 2012

Denmark will be placing some new limits on access to information and also making some expansions as the result of a deal among the major political parties announced Oct. 3, according to media accounts.

“The revision of the law, offentlighedsloven, has been ten years in the making, and was agreed upon on Wednesday between the government and opposition parties Konservative (K) and Venstre,” the Copenhagen Post reported Oct. 5.

Some changes appear to be winning approval. One such alteration will allow requests to be submitted online. Also, the law’s coverage would be expanded to include mailing lists, local and regional authorities and publicly owned companies.

But other alterations are being criticized by transparency advocates.

The bill will allow the government to terminate freedom of information requests if they take longer than 25 hours to handle with exceptions made for journalists and researchers from “recognised research institutes.”

Also, documents that record the decision-making processes of members of parliament will be newly off limits, according to one report.

Less clear from Google translations of the Danish press is the outcome of a longstanding controversy about coverage of documents used by ministries in decision-making.

Pro-transparency group Åbenhedstinget criticized the agreement. “We have a hard time understanding how it can be formulated without breaking the spirit of the constitution,” Nils Mulvad, the chairman of Åbenhedstinget, wrote on the organization’s website.

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