Freedom of Information Indicator


This indicator measures a government’s commitment to enable or allow information to move freely in society. It is a composite index that includes a measure of press freedom; the status of national freedom of information laws; and a measure of internet filtering.

Relationship to Growth & Poverty Reduction

Governments play a role in information flows; they can restrict or facilitate information flows within countries or across borders. Many of the institutions (laws, regulations, codes of conduct) that governments design are created to manage the flow of information in an economy. 1 Countries with better information flows often have better quality governance and less corruption. 2 Higher transparency and access to information have been shown to increase investment inflows because they enhance an investor’s knowledge of the behaviors and operations of institutions in a target economy; help reduce uncertainty about future changes in policies and administrative practices; contribute data and perspectives on how best an investment project can be initiated and managed; and allow for the increased coordination between social and political actors that typifies successful economic development. 3 The right of access to information within government institutions also strengthens democratic accountability, promotes political participation of all, reduces governmental abuses, and leads to more effective allocation of natural resources. 4 Access to information also empowers marginalized groups and those living in poverty by giving them the ability to more fully participate in society and providing them with knowledge that can be used for economic gain. 5


  1. Freedom House Press Freedom Index, Questions regarding this indicator may be directed to or +1 (202) 296-5101.

    Freedom House’s methodology: Countries are given a total score from 0 (best) to 100 (worst) on the basis of a set of 23 methodology questions divided into three subcategories: legal environment, political environment, and economic environment. The degree to which each country permits the free flow of news and information determines the classification of its media as “Free,” “Partly Free,” or “Not Free.” Countries scoring 0 to 30 are regarded as having “Free” media; 31 to 60, “Partly Free” media; and 61 to 100, “Not Free” media. The ratings and reports included in Freedom of the Press cover events that took place between January 1 and December 31 of the previous year.

  2. Fringe Special- Overview of All FOIA Laws, Questions regarding this indicator may be directed to Roger Vleugels at or 0031 6 2152 5790.

    Fringe Methodology: Fringe Methodology: In this dataset the definition of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is as follows: The FOIA must be a law in strict sense, it must include right to access information, this right has to be enforceable, and there must be complaint and appeal possibilities. Decrees are included if they meet the same minimum standards.

  3. Open Net Initiative’s Global Internet Filtering Map (specifically filtering of political content and of internet tools), Questions regarding this indicator may be directed to or +1 (416) 946-8903.

    ONI Methodology: In order to identify and document internet filtering, ONI checks two lists of websites in each of the countries tested: a global list (constant for each country) and a local list (different for each country). The global list of websites is comprised principally of internationally relevant websites with English content. A separate local list is created for each of the countries tested; it includes Web sites related to the specific issues and context of the study country. In countries where Internet censorship has been reported, the local lists also include those sites that were alleged to have been blocked. These lists are samples and are not meant to be exhaustive.

    The actual tests are run from within each country using specially designed software. Where appropriate, the tests are run from different locations to capture the differences in blocking behavior across ISPs and across multiple days and weeks to control for normal connectivity problems. Additional diagnostic work is performed to separate normal connectivity errors from intentional tampering.

Data Compilation Methodology: This indicator uses a country’s score on Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press index (Press) as the base. Countries’ base scores may improve based on data from the Overview of all Freedom of Information Laws (FOIA.) A country’s score is improved by 2 points if they have a Freedom of Information law in process and by 4 points if they have Freedom of Information laws or regulations already enacted. Data from the Global Internet Filtering Map (Net) is used to penalize some countries’ base scores. A country’s score is penalized 2 points for selective filtering of either political content or internet tools; 3 points for substantial filtering of either category; or 4 points for pervasive filtering of either category. This means a country that pervasively filters both political content and internet tools would receive a penalty of 8 points.

On this index, lower is better. Overall index scores are calculated as follows:

Press - FOIA+ Net = index score


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