What's New

  • 22 September 2011

    Norway Includes Gender Equality in OGP Plan

    Unusual among the action plans by the eight founding member governments of the Open Government Partnership, Norway included gender equality as one component. Norway is a founding member of the OGP, officially kicked off in New York City Sept. 20. (See overview.) The 46 countries joining the effort agree to write action plans containing […]

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  • 2 September 2011

    17 Countries Pledge to Join Open Government Partnership

    Nine countries plus the initial core group of eight have pledged to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a U.S. official told  Sept. 2, bringing total membership to 17. The nine countries that have sent in “letters of intent” are Kenya, Guatemala, Honduras, Albania, Macedonia, Malta, Georgia, Moldova and Slovakia. More letters are expected, […]

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News Archive

  • 25 August 2011

    OGP Members Begin Work on National Action Plans

    Efforts by the eight conveners of the Open Government Partnership to draft their national “action plans” are slowly emerging, according to a survey. However, in most countries the development of a plan does not appear to involve the wide public consultation called for in the “road map” for OGP aspirants to follow. In the […]

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  • 20 October 2009

    New Report on Aid Transparency: Not Available! Not Accessible!

    Madrid, Spain — Transparency NGO Access Info Europe released a report on October 20 entitled “Not Available! Not Accessible!” to coincide with the opening of the International Aid Transparency Initiative’s conference of donors and recipient governments in the Hague. The report shows how donor governments are failing to make available the information needed to prevent corruption in […]

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  • 19 June 2009

    12 European Countries Sign First International Convention on Access to Official Documents

    Advocates Urge 37 Remaining Council of Europe Members to Sign Tromsø, Norway — On June 18, 2009, 12 of 47 member-states of the Council of Europe signed the Convention on Access to Official Documents, making history as the first international binding legal instrument that recognizes a general right of access to official documents held by public authorities. […]

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  • 12 December 2007

    Information Commissioners Hold 5th International Conference in New Zealand

    Open Sessions Include NGO Participation; Commissioners Plan Future Cooperation By Kristin Adair for Information commissioners, government officials, and civil society representatives from around the world met at the 5th International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC) in Wellington, New Zealand, November 26-29.  The four-day conference consisted of one day of closed meetings for the commissioners, […]

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  • 19 April 2007

    IDB, Norway Launch $4.9 Million Transparency Fund

    The Inter-American Development Bank has received $4.9 million from the government of Norway to conduct projects concerning transparency and anticorruption efforts. According to a Feb. 26 memorandum of understanding, the IDB will establish a new trust fund, the Anticorruption Activities Fund, "to strengthen IDB member countries’ institutional capacity in order to improve overall governance as […]

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  • 28 September 2005

    International Right to Know Day 2005

    Since 2002, freedom of information advocates around the world have been working together to promote the right of access to information for all people and recognize the benefits of transparent and accountable governments. We use this day as a way to share ideas, strategies and success stories about the development of freedom of information laws […]

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  • Freedom of Information Act  – act relating to public access to documents in public administration. Freedom of Information Act of 1970, Act of 19 June 1970 relating to public access to documents in the public administration. Amended by Act No. 47 of 11 June 1982 and Act no. 86 of 17 December 1982 and Act of 10 January 1997 No. 7
  • Offentlighetsforskriften – regulations relating to the Freedom of Information Act (in Norwegian only)
  • Environmental Information Act - Act of 9 May 2003 No. 31 Relating to the Right to Environmental Information and Public Participation in Decision-making Processes Relating to the Environment
  • Public Administration Act –  act relating to procedure in cases concerning public administration
  • Forvaltningslovforskriften –  regulations relating to the Public Administration Act (in Norwegian only)
  • Arkivlova – regulations relating to the Public Archives Act (in Norwegian only)
  • Arkivforskrifta – regulations relating to the Public Archives Act (in Norwegian only)
  • Personal Data Act - act relating to the processing of personal data
  • Personal Data Regulations - regulations on the processing of personal data

Offentlig Elektronisk Postjournal (OEP) (English version - Electronic Public  Records)

Ombudsman for Public Administration [in Norwegian]   Datatilsynet (The Data Inspectorate) ORGANIZATIONS The Press Freedom Committee (Pressens Offentlighetsutvalg - POU)     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)


Article 100 of the 1814 Constitution was amended in October 2004 to include a specific right of access to access documents and attend court proceedings and meetings. The changes were recommended by the Governmental Commission on Freedom of Expression.(1) The new Article 100(5) now states:
Everyone has a right of access to the documents of the State and of the municipal administration and a right to be present at sittings of the courts and of administrative bodies elected by the people. Exceptions may be laid down in law in order to protect personal data security and other weighty reasons.
The Freedom of Information Act of 1970 provides for any person to have a broad right of access to official documents held by public authorities.(2) Official documents are defined as information which is recorded and can be listened to, displayed or transferred and which is either created by the authority and dispatched or has been received by the authority. All records are indexed at the time of creation or receipt and some ministries make the electronic indexes available on the Internet or through e-mail. Requests can be made in any form including anonymously and must be responded to immediately. Internal guidelines issued by the Ministry of Justice say that requests should be responded to in three days. The Ombudsman in 2000 ruled, "It should be possible to decide most disclosure requests the same day or at least in the course of one to three working days, provided that no special, practical difficulties were involved."(3) Release may be delayed, "if the documents then available give a directly misleading impression of the case and that public disclosure could therefore be detrimental to obvious public or private interests." There is a broad exemption for internal documents when the agency has not completed its handling of the case unless the agency has dispatched the document. Documents are also exempt from release if they are made secret by another law or if they refer to national security, national defense or international relations, financial management, the minutes of the Council of State, appointments or protections in the civil service, regulatory or control measures, test answers, annual fiscal budgets or long-term budgets, and photographs of persons entered in a personal data register. In 2001, the Parliament amended the act to allow applicants to civil service positions and promotions to refuse consent to have their names disclosed. The Ombudsman criticized the government in his 2001, 2002 and 2003 reports on the implementation of the amendment as bodies were refusing in many cases to disclose any names or consider the public interest in high government positions. In 2003, he stated "it would appear that the administration is practicing the provision in a more restrictive manner than appears to be the intention of the lawmaker." If access is denied, individuals can appeal to a higher authority and then to the Storting's Ombudsman for Public Administration or a court. The Ombudsman's decisions are not binding but are generally followed.(4) There have been very few court cases. The Ombudsman conducted a systematic review of FOI practices in 2001 and stated in his annual report that:
More than 30 years have passed since the Freedom of Information Act was passed. However, disclosure complaints show that there is room for improvement in application of the law in practice. Work to ensure that extended freedom of information is routinely considered is still important and must continuously be done to achieve a more favourable attitude towards extended disclosure.
The government released a white paper in April 1998 proposing changes in the law.(5) These include changing the subject of the request to information from documents, limiting the internal documents exemption, and making the law consistent with European Union requirements on access to environmental information. In October 2004, the government announced that it was planning to introduce a bill to replace the Act with a new law that "provides for greater transparency than the current Freedom of Information Act."(6) A bill was introduced in 2005. Norway signed the Aarhus Convention in June 1998 and ratified it in May 2003. The Environmental Information Act was approved in May 2003.(7) The 1998 Security Act sets rules on classification of information.(8) It creates four levels of classification and requires that information cannot be classified for more than 30 years. The National Security Authority enforces the Act. Starting in 1988, Norway began releasing en mass most documents over 30 years old.(9) The Act on Defence Secrets prohibits the disclosing of military secrets by government officials and also the collection (sketches, photographs and notes) and disclosure of secrets by others including journalists.(10) Articles 90 and 91 of the Criminal Code criminalize the disclosure of secrets. Imprisonment can be up to ten years. The Personal Data Act allows individuals to access and correct files containing personal information about themselves held by public and private bodies.(11) It is overseen and enforced by the Datatilsynet (The Data Inspectorate).(12) The Archives Act of 1992 sets a thirty years rule for the release of information.(13) A new Archives Act sets rules for the collection and registration of documents.(14) The Municipalities Act of 25 September 1992 requires that meetings of local governments are open unless subject to a statutory duty of confidentiality. 2004 Global Survey Results - Norway   NOTES See NOU 1999: 27. Act of 19 June 1970 relating to public access to documents in the public administration (lov om offentlighet i forvaltningen av 19 juni 1970 nr 69). Amended by Act No. 47 of 11 June 1982 and Act no. 86 of 17 December 1982 and Act of 10 January 1997 No. 7. Update Case 2000-0400 in Sivilombudsmannen, The Parliamentary Ombudsman - Norway Annual Report 2000. Homepage: See Fredrik Sejersted, Norway: The Act on Public Access to Documents: Current Frustrations and Proposals for Reform, European Public Law Journal, Vol 5, No. 1, 1999. The Speech from the Throne by his Majesty the King on the Occasion of the Opening of the 149th Session of the Storting, 2 October 2004. Act No. 31 of 9 May 2003 relating to environmental information. Act of 20 March 1998 No. 10 relating to Protective Security Services (the Security Act). For information generally on national security issues in Norway and the previous system of classification, see Nils Peter Gleditsch, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Information and National Security: The Case of Norway, in Security and Liberty: National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (Coliver et al, Ed), Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. Lov nr. 10 om forebyggende sikkerhetstjeneste, 20 March 1998. Act of 14 April 2000 No. 31 relating to the processing of personal data (Personal Data Act). Homepage: Archives Act of 4 December 1992 No. 126. See COE Report, p.214.



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.