(Dec. 12, 2008) Chile's new Law on the Transparency of Public Functions and Access to Information on Public Administration establishes that all information prepared using taxpayer money and all other information held by government agencies, whatever its format, date of creation, origin, classification, or processing, is in the public domain. Exceptions based on the need to preserve the confidentiality of certain matters are also included.
The Law sets forth the principle of active participation, pursuant to which every government agency must make available to potential users, through electronic means, the information mentioned in the Law. The Law also refers to the principles that compose citizens' right of access to information, including those of maximum information dissemination, nondiscrimination, and gratuitousness. The Law mentions exceptions to this right, however, based on the rights of third parties and on other specific and restricted grounds. Furthermore, it provides that special laws qualifying certain matters as “reserved” from being publicly disseminated for a maximum of five years may be enacted.
One of the main innovations of the new Law is the creation of the Transparency Council, an autonomous entity in charge of guaranteeing citizens' right of access to public information, with powers to enforce the law and impose penalties. Finally, the Law addresses citizens' right to begin formal proceedings, either judicially or administratively, about alleged violations of their right of access to public information before the Transparency Council and appellate courts. (Law No. 20.285, website of the DIARIO OFICIAL [Chile's official gazette], Aug. 20, 2008, available at http://www.diariooficial.cl/actualidad/20ulle/20285.html.)