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IV. Governance issues

Open government

Article 30 of the Constitution provides limited freedom of information rights. The article states, "Free access to administrative departments for purposes of information on matters of public interest is guaranteed. State secrets are excluded from this provision."

The right to access public information is not regulated in any statute. However, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice has recognized this right in its case law. It has held that access to public files is unlimited, except in those cases classified as "top secret," where information concerning individuals, groups or corporations is considered confidential, or when the information can seriously affect public security, public order or public health.1

An Open Government and Access to Public Information Bill was introduced into Congress.2 Article 2 provides a wide definition of what that Act would consider sensitive data, emphasizing among others clinical and psychological data, as well as data related to personal and familial life.

International obligations

Costa Rica and Canada signed the "Joint Statement of Global Electronic Commerce Costa Rica – Canada."3 Both countries committed themselves to cooperate bilaterally to create a positive international environment by "ensuring safeguards to provide protection and increase confidence in the digital marketplace by addressing such issues as privacy, security, and consumer protection."4 These goals will be achieved by two means. First, both countries recognize that they will encourage the enactment of legislation protecting consumers' privacy. Second, both countries "agree to share information on the functioning of their respective data protection regimes."5 Although encouraging, the statement is only a declaration of principles without implementation or enforcement mechanisms of any kind. Costa Rican government officials and experts also signed "The Minimum Rules for the Diffusion of Information on the Internet," known as the "Rules of Heredia," which seek to protect the user of judicial services.6