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  • Writer's pictureMichaela Jamelska

The Right to Know in the digital age

September 28 serves as a reminder that we have the Right to Know. A few years ago, freedom of information organizations united to underscore the importance of everyone having access to information, celebrating the benefits of openness and transparency.

In 2015, UNESCO declared that International Day for Universal Access would be observed annually on September 28. In 2019, the 74th UN General Assembly proclaimed September 28 as the International Day for Universal Access to Information at the UN level. The UN states that the goal is to foster sustainable solutions that advance the Sustainable Development Goals by encouraging governments, civil society, and individuals to engage and contribute to SDG 16 (Just, Peaceful, and Inclusive Societies).

As citizens, we have the right to information, which enables us to participate in democratic governance. Access to accurate information is now recognized as a fundamental human right and a cornerstone of democracy. It is crucial not only for enhancing government transparency but also for reducing misinformation. Social media has dramatically changed how information is disseminated. We are bombarded with both information and misinformation through every social media feed and comment. In many countries, we indeed have access to information—so much so that it can feel overwhelming, like being caught in a relentless avalanche.

However, the right to know and access information remains a luxury that many countries and their citizens still lack. Consider countries such as China, Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, and Cuba, where citizens live under regimes that deny them this right.

This brief article serves not only as a reminder of your rights, such as the right to know but also emphasizes the importance of having the right information. Social media has significantly impacted by providing the public with powerful tools, but with our right to know comes the duty to verify information. We must critically assess what we read or hear, check sources, and form conclusions based on facts and research, not just personal judgments. After all, what is the point of having the right to know if the information is incorrect?


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