Austria

Name of law: Duty to Grant Information Act

First adopted: 1987

Last modified: 1998-09

RTI Rating last updated: 2016-06

Introduction

Austria has one of the weakest right to information laws in the world and consistently ranks at the bottom of the rating. Adopted in 1987, Austria’s RTI law is missing several measures which are now considered standard. Most notably, the law does not constrain the ability of authorities to deny access to information, providing no guidance on when authorities must disclose information. The minimal protections in the Constitution and the law, which state that information shall be disclosed except where disclosure conflicts with secrecy obligations, are not enough to offer any meaningful protection to the right to information absent a proper exceptions regime.

Other major weaknesses include the lack of an appeals structure or an independent oversight body. The law also loses points because it only applies to a limited set of public authorities, and because key procedural elements are absent, such as a requirement that authorities give notice that they have received a request or an obligation to inform the requester if the authority in question does not hold the requested information. The eight-week deadline for responding to requests is also far longer than international better practice.

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