On 2 December 1766, the world’s first-ever freedom of information law was signed into law. It had been promulgated by the Parliament of Sweden, of which Finland was a part of at the time.
The 1766 law is the oldest constitution to regulate freedom of information in the world. It pioneered public access to state information and abolished prior censorship, making what was then Sweden and Finland the first country in the world to officially instigate a Right to Information law.
The 250th anniversary of the Freedom of the Press Act will be commemorated with an event at the Free Word Centre in London on Thursday 8th of December. "This is an opportunity to remember and celebrate the achievement of the 1766 law. It will also be a chance to reflect the state of access to information today", says David Goldberg, the originator of the idea for the event.
However, the 1766 law was already weakened by 1774 following the coup d'etat of Gustav III. Although short-lived, the effect of the law was significant. "The law led to a huge spike of publication of information, which is reflected today in the National Archives in Sweden", David Goldberg says.
Freedom of Information Act at 250 will be held at the Free Word Centre on Thursday 8th December, 2.30pm–8.30pm. The two-part event is comprised of two moderated discussions and a panel discussion.
The event is arranged the Information Law and Policy Centre at the IALS, supported by the Embassy of Finland and the Embassy of Sweden.
A new English translation of the 1766 law can be found at www.peterforsskal.com.