Austria - from official secrecy to freedom of information?
Published 24 February 2015
The Austrian Government is currently discussing a possible change to the constitutional principle of official secrecy – no right to information hold by administrative bodies – to a limited freedom of information. Specific administrative bodies shall be obliged to publish information of public interest, as long as no specific duty to obtain confidentiality is established by law. Disclosure shall be inadmissible, only, if (i) overriding legitimate interests in secrecy by data subjects involved, (ii) external political reasons, (iii) national security reasons exist or (iv) business and trade secrets are concerned. In addition, publication may be denied if the effectiveness of investigations may be superseded.
Further, unaffected decision making, stability of the financial market and the fair competition shall be ensured. However, there is no final decision on the actual scope of the envisaged amendment, yet. As many administrative authorities, including the Austrian Data Protection Authority, have filed concerns and requests of clarification of the actual draft, we do not expect the new regulation to enter into force before mid/end of 2015.