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Government Information Quarterly. Volume 3, Issue 1 (1986), p. 49-61.


Many of the major western democracies have enacted freedom of information legislation in recent years. The author argues that these legislative schemes have not yet successfully resolved the tension between the desire for greater openness which these schemes manifest and a concern to protect personal privacy. The author compares the approaches taken in federal legislation in Canada and the U.S. and concludes that the former scheme permits undue sensitivity to privacy protection concerns to undermine the access scheme. The author concludes, however, that the American “balancing test,” though preferable, could be much improved by the adoption of more specific criteria for achieving an appropriate balance, a number of which are articulated in this article.

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