On May 15th, 2012, the Law No. 12,527/2011 entered into force. Such Law, which regulates broad access to public information, in accordance with Brazilian Federal Constitution, item XXXIII of Art. 5,  § 3º of Art. 37 and § 2º of Art. 216,  brought a significant change in the way public information shall be disclosed to the society.

Information is considered as any type of data, regardless of its format, which can be used for producing and transmitting knowledge. Access to information, however, does not include  data used in scientific or technological research and development projects when their disclosure may affect the society and/or State safety.

The basic guidelines of Law 12,527 are: (i) the rule is that all public documents shall be publicly disclosed and the data confidentiality shall be exceptional; (ii) the disclosure of information of public interest shall occur regardless of requests; (iii) the disclosure of information shall be made by means of any type of communication available; (iv) it aims at promoting the development of a culture of transparency in the public administration and its control by society.

The State shall ensure the information management transparency, promoting it broad access by the public and its dissemination, controlling any information restriction or confidentiality and the disclosure of personal information.

Since the enactment of Law 12.527/2011, any citizen, upon request, may have access to relevant information of any governmental authorities, whether federal, state or local. The request shall only contain the name of the person who is requesting and the information specifications, being the provider government authority prevented to require any justification and/ reasoning for such information request.

The information request may be performed by any person through any available and legitimate means and the public authority shall enable alternative ways for information access through official websites.

Access to required information shall be rendered immediately. In case it is not possible to promptly disclose the information, the relevant public authority shall suggest a place and time for it. In the case of confidential information, the public authority may justifiably refuse to provide it.

Any information disclosure refusal may be challenged, through an administrative proceeding.

Law No. 12.527/2011 is applicable to information held by any public authority, including executive, judicial and legislative branches, state-owned companies and public entities.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.