The principle of public access is a basic principle in the Swedish governmental system and means that the activities of the state, municipalities and county councils must be made transparent to the public and the media.
The principle of public access to information means that information about the government’s and government agency activities is made public as far as possible. One of our fundamental acts, the Freedom of the Press Act, contains provisions on the right of the public to be informed about public documents. This right is an expression of the principle of public access to information and means that any private citizen may read an official document as long as it is not secret. The Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act contains information on the applicable limitations to the right to access official documents.
What is an official document?
Documents containing information of any kind, text, pictures or information stored in another way, such as in a computer, can all be official documents.
A document act is official if it is kept by an authority and listed by or registered with the authority. Memo notes, drafts and safety copies are not official documents.
When does secrecy apply?
The main rule is that secrecy applies to information about the business activities or operating conditions of individual parties where it can be anticipated that the individual party will suffer if such conditions be disclosed. In the case of the Swedish Chemicals Agency, this applies in the following cases:
- Products Register activities relating to composition data, quantities and supplier name
- ongoing investigations and handling of authorisations, and in enforcement of legislative matters relating to chemical products and biotechnical organisms or genetically modified organisms. See the Public Access and Secrecy Act (Chapter 30, Section 23 and the Public Access and Secrecy Ordinance (Section 9 § and the Annex, points 46, 82 and 110).
Freedom of the Press Act (1949:105) (in Swedish)