What's New

  • 19 May 2016

    Italian Council Ratifies Transparency Decree

    The Italian Council of Ministers has approved a Transparency Decree providing for access to information. “The first Italian FOIA” was welcomed by Foia4Italy, a network of more than 30 civil society organizations that campaigned for the decree and logged 88,000 names on a petition for the decree. Some improvements were made in the final version, […]

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  • 24 February 2016

    Italian Groups Submit Petition Objecting to Decree

    Italian transparency advocates critical of a proposed government decree on access to information have submitted a petition (still open) with 60,000 signatories objecting to it. Representatives of FOIA4Italy, a 30-group coalition, voiced their objections at a meeting with government officials and parliamentarians, according to a report by the group. The group outlined its 10 main concerns, […]

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News Archive

  • 15 February 2016

    Draft Italian Access Decree Still Disappoints Supporters

    An Italian right to information decree has now been released officially and appears to live up to low expectations. FOIA4Italy issued a statement lamenting weaknesses in the decree approved by the Council of Ministers, calling it very disappointing. It was not much changed from a leaked version. There are not many chances of changing it, […]

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  • 27 January 2016

    FOIA4Italy Finds Faults In Draft FOI Decree

    The still-secret draft Italian Transparency Decree, recently approved in the Council of Ministers, has leaked, giving activists a look at a document they promptly called “very disappointing.” The draft decree does not live up to promises made by the Italian prime minister and other top officials, according to a FOIA4Italy statement (in Italian; and full text […]

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  • 21 January 2016

    Italian Ministers Approve Decree With FOIA Provisions

    The Italian Council of Ministers on Jan. 20 approved a freedom of information decree, but has not disclosed the text. As part of a larger package of public administration reforms, the Council voted for a decree which changes the Transparency Decree (33/2013 which grants citizens “civic access”) and anticorruption law (190/2012) with new provisions on […]

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  • 6 November 2015

    Draft Italian FOI Legislation Receives Mixed Reviews

      Two new evaluations give mixed reviews to a draft freedom of information law for Italy, a rare Europe country without a FOI law. The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) examined a bill by Member of Parliament Anna Ascani and concluded “the draft has a long way to go to meet international standards in […]

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  • 6 August 2015

    Italy House Authorizes Creation of FOI Decree

    The Italian House Aug. 4 passed a “Public Administrative” bill that grants the government authority to write a freedom of information law. The package of reforms contains general instructions for the creation of a FOI decree. FOI supporters, while pleased with the move overall, are concerned about the lack of specific direction provided. The bill […]

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  • 14 May 2015

    A FOIA for Italy Could Be a Weak One

    By Claudio Cesarano  The author is the Communication and Research Intern at Access Info Europe. A draft freedom of information law currently pending before the Italian parliament would not significantly improve the right to information in Italy. Right to information specialists at Access Info Europe have given the draft law a score of 68 points […]

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  • 27 June 2014

    Study Evaluates FOI in Italy, Seven Other Countries

    A comparative analysis on freedom of information laws in eight countries is designed to lay the groundwork for a campaign to improve the Italian access regime. The report was written by Alexandre Salha, the former Project Manager at Transparency International Lebanon, who is now working with the Italian group Diritto Di Sapere. The countries examined […]

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  • 26 April 2013

    Monitoring Study Finds Poor Response Rates in Italy

    The largest-ever audit of how responsive the Italian government is to requests for information has delivered an answer: “extremely low.” The study was jointly conducted by Diritto Di Sapere and Access-Info Europe.  Some 300 requests were filed, but less than one quarter of the requests resulted in information being provided.   “Only 27% of requests led […]

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  • 8 October 2012

    The Fight For Information In Italy

    By Alessia Cerantola This article was published Sept. 27, 2012, by the European Journalism Centre. In many countries, access to public information is guaranteed by law. Often at the constitutional level. Not in Italy. Two-year Waiting Period When Focus magazine decided to release a special issue on the quality of Italian hospitals, its journalists knew […]

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  • 20 September 2012

    Italian FOI Activists Hold Event to Push Legislation

    Italian supporters celebrated Sept. 19 as Italy’s “Day of Transparency” seeking to build support for national freedom of information legislation. “A group of associations and prominent individuals started a campaign last spring to demand the introduction of a law that allows citizens to have access to documentation from the public administration,” according to the organizers […]

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  • 27 March 2012

    Spain Proposes FOI Law; NGO Identifies Faults

    Spain’s proposed freedom of information law is drawing critical reviews. Spain’s Cabinet on March 23 agreed to propose a freedom of information law and on March 26 proposed a text (in Spanish) for an unusual  15-day consultation period. “It is a law whose main goal is improve the credibility of and trust in our institutions, […]

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  • 24 February 2004

    Parliamentarians Flex Growing Organization, Make Request of Bank

    The chairman of an international group of parliamentarians has asked the World Bank to help assure a larger role for legislatures in setting the poverty-fighting strategies within their countries. The request marks one of the first times the parliamentarians have proposed a significant and specific policy change, according to persons familiar with the group’s history. […]

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LEGAL DOCUMENTS   Transparency Decree (2016) (in Italian)   Law No. 241 of 7 August 1990 on Access to Administrative Documents   1992 regulations   Data Protection Act (1996)   GOVERNMENT Committee on Access to Administrative Documents   Garante [enforcement of Data Protection Act]   ORGANIZATIONS Diritto Di Sapere Transparency International Italia   HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Click to view. Text from the Global Survey: Freedom of Information and Access to Government Records Around the World, by David Banisar (updated July 2006)


Chapter V of Law No. 241 of 7 August 1990 provides for access to administrative documents.(1) However, the right to access is limited. The law states that those requesting information must have an legal interest. The 1992 regulations require "a personal concrete interest to safeguard in legally relevant situations." The courts have ruled that this includes the right of environmental groups and local councilors to demand information on behalf of those they represent. It was amended in 2005.(2) The revision appears to adopt the court rulings and relax the interest somewhat to allow access when an individual can show they represent a more general public interest. Documents include "any graphic, photographic, cinematic, electromagnetic or other representation of the contents of acts, including internal acts, produced by public administrations or used for purposes of administrative activity." The law applies to "administrative bodies of the state, including special and autonomous bodies, public entities and the providers of public services, as well as guarantee and supervisory authorities." Requests can be written or oral. Public bodies must respond within 30 days but they can delay release if this would "prevent or severely impede the performance of administrative action." Information relating to state secrets, fiscal procedures, development of policy, and relating to rights of third parties is excluded. Information relating to national defense, international relations monetary policy, public order and prevention of crime, personal privacy and professional secrets can be withheld but must be given when it is necessary to defend their legal interest. The 1992 regulations require that non-disclosure must generally be justified in terms of "concrete damage" to the public interest, but they also state that access may be denied if there is specific, identified damage to national security and defense or international relations; if there is a danger of damaging monetary and foreign exchange policy; and if they relate to the enforcement of laws and the privacy and confidentiality of individuals, legal persons, groups, enterprises and associations. Appeals can be made to a regional administrative court. The decision of the court can be appealed to the Council of State. Government bodies are required to publish "all directives, programs, rules, instructions, circulars and all acts concerning the organizations, functions, or purposes of a public administrative body." Each body must keep a database of information requests, which is linked to a national database. A decree to implement the EU Directive on the re-use and commercial exploitation of public sector information (2003/98/EC) was adopted in January 2006.(3) The Commission on Access to Administrative Documents under the Office of the Prime Minister monitors the workings of the law.(4) The Commission reviews the regulations of the bodies, comments on related legislation, issues an annual report and can request all documents except those subject to state secrecy. It is also tasked with operating and analyzing the general databank of information requests. In its 2004 report, it noted that some bodies had not adopted required regulations and there was still difficulty with the culture of transparency in public administration. It issued 84 opinions in 2004.(5) Law 142/90 on local authorities gives rights to access administrative documents for public participation in local administration. Italy signed the Aarhus Convention in 1998 and ratified it in 2001. Under Law 349/86, any citizen has a right of access to information related to the environment held by the Ministry of the Environment. The courts have ruled that environmental information is broadly defined.(6) A 1997 decree implements the 1990 EU environmental information directive and does not require a specific interest.(7) It is currently under review to make it compatible with EU Legislation. In July 2005, the European Commission announced that it was taking legal action against Italy and six other countries for failing to implement the 2003 EU Directive on access to environmental information.(8) The European Court of Human Rights ruled in the 1998 case of Guerra v Italy that governments had an obligation to inform citizens of risks from a chemical factory under Article 8 (protecting privacy and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, which Italy failed to do.(9) Law 24 of October 1977 sets rules on state and official secrets.(10) The Criminal Code prohibits the disclosure of state secrets and other information which is forbidden from being published.(11) The Central Security Office in the intelligence service (CESIS) enforces protection of state secrets. Under the Data Protection Code individuals can access records containing personal information about themselves held by public and private bodies.(12) It is enforced by the Garante.(13) 2004 Global Survey Results - Italy   NOTES Law No. 241 of 7 August 1990. (not current) Legge 11 febbraio 2005, n. 15 "Modifiche ed integrazioni alla legge 7 agosto 1990, n. 241, concernenti norme generali sull'azione amministrativa" Dectro LEGISLATIVO 24 gennaio 2006, n. 36, "Attuazione della direttiva 2003/98/ce relativa al riutilizzo di documenti nel settore pubblico". Homepage: Relazione per l'anno 2004 della Commissione per l'accesso ai documenti amministrativi sulla trasparenza dell'attività della pubblica amministrazione See Hallo, Access to Environmental Information in Europe: Italy (Kluwer Law 1996). Decreto legislativo del 24/02/1997 n. 39, Attuazione della direttiva 90/313/CEE, concernente la libertà di accesso alle informazioni in materia di ambiente, Supplemento ordinario alla Gazzetta Ufficiale Serie generale, n.54, del 06/03/1997, p 3. European Commission, Public access to environmental information: Commission takes legal action against seven Member States, 11 July 2005. Case of Guerra and Others v. Italy (116/1996/735/932), 19 February 1998. Legge 24 ottobre 1977, n. 801 Istituzione e ordinamento dei servizi per le informazioni e?la sicurezza e disciplina del segreto di Stato. Criminal Code §§261-263. Personal Data Protection Code, Legislative Decree no. 196 of 30 June 2003. Homepage:



Measuring Openness

Global Right to Information Rating
A country-by-country rating of laws by the Centre for Democracy and Law and Access Info.

Freedom House
The Freedom in the World report.

World Bank
Worldwide Governance Indicators

Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index
Measures perceptions of the degree of corruption.

Reporters Without Borders
The Press Freedom Index.