A legal requirement for public bodies to provide data held by them to citizens on request as well as proactively, unless a specific exemption applies, e.g. the data is confidential for the reasons of national security, privacy, market competition or similar. Information obtained under access to information law is not automatically considered open data, unless it is delivered in a machine-readable format and under an open licence. In many of the EU countries the right of access to information (documents) is considered to be a constitutional rank right which is protected by the independent redress mechanism and/or courts. In Anglo-Saxon countries the term is freedom of information (USA, UK etc.).

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