Right to Know

Background

Information disclosure has become a widely used and highly valued government tool for protecting public health and the environment. Disclosure, or "right to know," programs are credited with bolstering traditional regulatory approaches and helping achieve significant reductions in pollution levels by informing firms and individuals about pollution problems that they can address themselves. These programs also educate citizens about public health and environmental issues and help empower them to take more active roles in addressing threats to their communities. At the same time, information disclosure programs have been the focus of increasing criticism, principally by representatives of the industries whose facilities, emissions, and products are subjected to public scrutiny as a result of these programs. 9/11 and the consequent national security concerns have generated heated debate over whether information disclosure policies are in tension with the need to careful safeguard information about national infrastructure vulnerabilities.


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