President of the Republic
After reviewing the constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
Law No. 189 of 1958 obligating public institutions, companies and associations to provide data on employees,
Law No. 35 of 1960 regarding statistics and censuses,
Law No. 87 of 1960 regarding the general mobilization and amended laws,
Law No. 137 of 1963 regarding the enumeration of competencies, educational qualifications and inventions,
Law No. 121 of 1975 regarding the preservation of the state’s official documents and the regulation of their publication,
Presidential Decree No. 627 of 1981 regarding the establishment of information and documentation centers in state administrative bodies and public bodies and their powers,
Law No. 356 of 1954 regulating the work of the National Archives,
Law No. 2915 of 1964 regarding the establishment and regulation of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics,
The Penal Code No. 58 of 1937, amended by Law No. 141 of 2021,
Law No. 35 of 1960 regarding statistics and censuses,
The Government Archives Regulation No. 270 of 2009,
Law No. 183 of 2018 amending some provisions of Law No. 8 of 2009 regarding the protection of manuscripts,
It was decided that:
Chapter One: Definitions and Objectives
Article (1): Within the context of applying the provisions of this law, the terms mentioned hereinafter shall be defined as follows:
- Information: The material that explains something and is kept recorded in any form including print, electronic, samples, forms, audio and video tapes, and any other form.
- Information of personal nature: Information related to a person through which they can be identified.
- Disclosure: A procedure through which information can be accessed using any means of communication, including direct access to the record containing the information, or a copy of that record, or through the press, radio and television, or any other means.
- Record: Any set of recorded information regardless of its form, source, date of creation, official position, and whether the device on which the information is kept is the source of creation or classified secret.
- Information officer: An individual assigned by a government agency with the responsibilities of publishing and disclosing information and implementing this law.
- Government agency: Any agency in which the government is represented, provided that it was established under the constitution or a law. It is a government department or part of any level or branch of the government, provided that it is owned, managed or funded by a fund managed by the government or the state, or performs a legal or public task related to that function.
- Private agency: Any non-governmental agency operating in the field of commerce and business, whose assets are owned by the private sector, and has a legal personality.
- The Authority: The Information Access Authority, which is an independent body that works to ensure the enforcement of this law.
- National security: All information relating to the following shall be considered as matters of national security:
- War plans, military operations, the readiness and operational capabilities of military units, including the identity, strength, command structure, and organization of personnel, units, and equipment of any armed force, as long as such information retains operational benefit
- Information relating to weapons and their production, capabilities or use, including technical data and inventions
- Procedures to protect personnel, materials, systems or facilities against an attack that poses a threat to national security
- Information that falls under any of the categories mentioned herein and is provided by a foreign country or an international body that requested explicitly and in writing to keep such information confidential
- Investigations into crimes related to matters falling into one of the abovementioned categories
- Confidential intelligence activities, sources and methods related to matters falling into one of the abovementioned categories
- The current archive: The documents created on a daily basis within the institutions subject to the law
- The intermediate archive: The stage of transferring documents from the current archive – the daily documents – to the Public Archiving House
- The historical archive: The transfer of documents from the Public Archiving House – the intermediate archive – to the National Archives
- The document cycle: The process through which documents are transferred from the current archive to the intermediate archive and then to the historical archive
- Proactive disclosure: The periodic/routine publication of basic information and developments in the work of the bodies subject to this law, without the need to submit a request to those bodies
Article (2): The objectives of this law are as follows:
- To acknowledge the right to access information in accordance with international standards and the principle of the need to release information in a public manner when there is no reason for the confidentiality of information that overrides this right.
- To set mechanisms and measures to enhance the disclosure of information with the aim of contributing to meeting the needs of society in order to solve economic and social problems; meeting planning and development requirements; promoting an effective, open, and accountable government; and encouraging participation in governance.
- To achieve the objectives of sub-articles (1) and (2) while maintaining security and safety, and not overriding public and personal interests and rights, including the right to privacy.
Chapter Two: Right to Information
Article (3): Everyone has the right to access information kept by government and private agencies.
Article (4): Government agencies shall commit to disclosing information subject to the provisions of this law, and private agencies shall commit to disclosing information subject to the provisions of this law when access to this information facilitates the exercise or protection of any right, including consumers’ rights, and/or when projects funded by state institutions are implemented, and this shall not include trade and professional secrets.
Article (5): The rights referred to in Articles (3) and (4) shall be applied regardless of the existence of any other laws or decisions that prevent or prohibit the disclosure of information, or any system concerned with the administrative classification of records.
Article (6): Every natural or legal person has the right to publish, through any means including the media, the information accessed in accordance with this law.
Article (6) bis: All gag orders issued in accordance with the Penal Code or the Criminal Procedures Law may be appealed before the administrative judiciary.
Chapter Three: Proactive Disclosure
Article (6) bis: In order for government and private agencies to comply with the provisions stipulated in this law, government agencies shall maintain the information in their possession in accordance with the rules set forth in the law regulating the work of the National Archives and in the various regulations of archives. Private agencies shall also maintain the information in their possession.
- Every government agency subject to this law shall proactively disclose on its website:
- Details related to its organizational structure, functions and duties as well as its policy and other basic organizational documents.
- All relevant facts related to public decisions, policies, programs, and finances, and statistical, economic and social information that affect the public, provided that this shall not exceed the time during which those decisions were announced.
- The procedure followed in decision-making processes, including channels of supervision and accountability.
- A guide that includes senior officials and employees at the agency, their powers and duties, and the pay they receive.
- The rules, systems, instructions and guides in force in the agency or used by its employees to carry out their jobs.
- A description of the services provided by the agency to the public, any governmental support programs, and a list of the beneficiaries of these services and programs.
- Any public consultation opportunities or mechanisms and any complaint mechanisms made available to the public.
- Information about the government’s programs and actions, including performance and quality indicators, purchases, allocated financing and real spending, results of tenders, public practices and auctions, and international agreements.
- A statement of the categories of information held by the agency, provided that the statement refers to the records available in an electronic form, and the reports specifying the extent to which the agency is committed to disclosing information.
- A guide explaining how to apply for information.
- The names, positions, contact details, and other relevant details of the information officers.
- Any information that the administrative body deems important to publish.
- The information required to be published under sub-article (1) shall be widely disseminated in a way that is easily accessible to the public, as it shall be relevant, updated monthly and at most every three months, taking into account that it is suitable for people who are unable to read and write and people with disabilities.
- Each government agency shall provide the reasons for making administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to the persons affected by such decisions.
- Government agencies shall seek to provide as much information as possible automatically, especially through the internet, subject to considerations of cost and ability to do so, with the aim of limiting the need for individuals to return to the procedure of requesting information.
Chapter Four: Procedures for Requesting Information
Article (8): Each government agency shall establish an effective system for receiving and handling requests for information, including the development of a form of access to information requests.
- Any person has the right to submit an oral or written application (including by electronic means) to any governmental or private agency requesting access to information or a record held by the agency.
- When the applicant submits his application to the government agency orally, the information officer shall put it in a written form and provide the applicant with a copy. The executive regulations of this law specify the conditions for submitting an oral application.
- The information officer at the government agency appointed under Article (31) of this law shall provide assistance to the applicant when the application is not clear enough to specify the required information, or if the applicant needs assistance in submitting the application due to illiteracy, disability or other reasons.
- No personal reasons or details other than the means of communication shall be mentioned when submitting an application, while the applications submitted to private agencies shall indicate how access to the required information or record would facilitate the exercise or protection of a right or its association with a project funded by the state.
- The applicant shall be given a receipt when submitting the application.
- The governmental or private agency shall respond to the request as described in the article as soon as possible, provided that the response period does not, in any case, exceed 15 working days.
- The response period may be extended to an additional 15 working days, with notifying the applicant, when the request relates to a large number of documents or requires search in a large number of documents, or in cases that require consultation with third parties or other public bodies, which makes it difficult to provide a response within 15 working days.
- When the request relates to information important and necessary to protect the life or freedom of a person, the response to the request shall be within 48 hours.
- In the event that a request is not responded to within the specified time period, the law shall consider this as a refusal to fulfil the request.
- In the event that a request for access to information is rejected, the applicant shall be provided with a notice explaining the reasons for the rejection, including the exception mentioned in this law on which the rejection was based, the name of the person who made the decision, and information explaining the individual’s right to object to the rejection.
- If a request for access to information is approved, the applicant shall be provided with a notice explaining the form of disclosure of the information and the required fees, and then the information and/or records shall be made available after the payment of the aforementioned fees.
- In the case of partial approval of a request for access to information, the applicant shall be provided with a notice stating the details of sub-article (6) in relation to the part referred to in the request to be approved, and also explaining the refusal to access part of the information included in the request accompanied by the details mentioned in sub-article (5) related to this part of the request.
- When the applicant specifies a form for the disclosure of information, the form mentioned in the application shall be adhered to unless it is detrimental to the preservation of the record. In this case, the applicant shall be provided with the following options regarding the form of disclosure:
- The possibility of scanning and/or copying the record using his/her own equipment.
- A true copy of the record in written or any other format.
- A transcript of the audio records, audio and video records, or the records kept in any other non-written format. However, in the case of a record about to get damaged, an electronic copy of the record shall be made once to be used in the disclosure of information related to it.
- Fees may be imposed in exchange for the information disclosure request, provided that the value of the fees does not exceed the actual cost of copying the information and providing it to the applicant, and no additional fees may be imposed for access to information.
- The executive regulations shall specify the method of calculating and collecting these fees, as well as the cases that may be exempted from the required fees.
- Persons with disabilities who apply for information in a format appropriate to their disability shall not pay a fee that exceeds the fee for providing the same information in a format suitable for non-disabled persons.
Article (13): In the event that a record containing the required information is not in the possession of the government agency, the information officer shall, within five working days, either transfer the application to another government agency that has the information or notify the applicant that the information is not in his possession. The applicant shall be notified in case his application is transferred to another agency.
Chapter Five: Exceptions
Article (14): If the request for information is related to a record that contains information subject to the exceptions specified in this chapter, the part that does not include information subject to the exceptions shall be disclosed without prejudice to the content of the record.
- Any governmental or private agency may refuse to disclose information when it is related to the disclosure of personal information about a third party.
Sub-article (1) shall not be applied in the following cases:
- If the third party consents to the disclosure.
- If the third party is informed of the intention to disclose the information in accordance with Article 18, and does not object to that.
- If the information is made available to the agency by the individual to whom the information relates, and this individual is informed at that time that the information falls under the category of information that may be disclosed publicly.
- If the information is already available in public.
- If the information is related to the welfare of an individual subject to the applicant’s care and therefore disclosure of the information would benefit that individual.
- If the information is related to an individual who works or used to work for a government agency and such information relates to his or her activities as a government official.
- If the information is related to an individual who works or used to work for a government agency and such information is necessary to notify him of a lawsuit filed against him.
- If the information is necessary for revealing gross human rights violations.
- A governmental or private agency may refuse to disclose information when this contradicts a legal obligation towards a third party.
- A governmental or private agency may refuse to disclose the information it obtains from a third party in light of the existence of a legal obligation between them and:
- The information contains trade secrets.
- The disclosure of the information constitutes real or potential harm to the financial or commercial interests of the third party.
- The disclosure of the information would harm or would be likely to harm the provision of similar information in the future from a similar source, and there is a public interest in continuing to supply such information.
- The information is related to academic or professional tests.
- Sub-articles (1) and (2) shall not be applied if the third party consents to the disclosure or is informed of the intention to disclose the information in accordance with Article 8, and does not object to that.
- A governmental or private agency may refuse to disclose the information it obtains from another country or an international organization in light of the existence of a legal obligation between the two parties, and the disclosure of the information would harm or would be likely to harm relations with the country or the international organization.
Article (17): A governmental or private agency may refuse to disclose information when it results from legal procedures, unless the person who is entitled to benefit from it waives this right, or if the information is related to the public interest.
- When a government agency intends, upon a request for data, to disclose information that was obtained based on mutual trust or that was treated as confidential by a third party, this agency shall give the third party a written notice of its intention to disclose the information and also give the third party eight days during which they can object to the disclosure process and state the reasons for the necessity of not disclosing the information.
- In the event that a third party objects to the disclosure of information under sub-article (1), the government agency shall take this into consideration when it is in the process of making a decision to disclose the information or not.
Article (19): A governmental or private agency may refuse to disclose information when the disclosure would harm or would be likely to harm national security or defence, and the agency’s head shall issue a decision stipulating the confidentiality of the record that contains the information in accordance with the criteria specified for that and set by the Information Access Authority.
Article (20): A governmental or private agency may refuse to disclose information when the disclosure would harm or would be likely to harm 1. The detection, prevention, or investigation of a crime. 2. The arrest or prosecution of the perpetrators.
Article (21): A government agency shall disclose the required information that falls under the exception stipulated in this chapter when the public interest achieved from the disclosure outweighs the harm to the interest protected by the exception. With regard to this article, the public interest includes, but is not limited to, a serious threat to health, security or the environment, or revelation of the risks of a criminal behaviour or corruption, or mismanagement in the governmental and public sectors.
Chapter Six: Formation of the Information Access Authority
Article (22): The Information Access Authority shall be established with the status of a constitutionally independent body, and it shall be based in Cairo.
Article (23): The term of the Authority’s chairperson and members shall be 4 years, to be renewable for one time only.
Article (24): The Authority’s chairperson and members shall be Egyptian nationals and shall not:
- Hold a position in a political party or work as an employee of a political party, or hold a public post – by election or appointment – in the executive body or localities.
- Have been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.
Article (25): The Information Access Authority shall undertake the following tasks:
- Deciding on the appeals submitted to it by applicants for disclosure of information, and it may ask government agencies regarding the reasons for rejecting the disclosure request.
- Announcing decisions related to appeals and sending them to the concerned bodies and applicants for disclosure, and publishing the decisions on its website.
- Overseeing governmental and private agencies with regard to compliance with the application of the Access to Information Law.
- Expressing views on all draft laws related to the right to information.
- Preparing guides that define the standards related to proactive disclosure and disclosure requests, and publishing them on its website.
- Setting rules and standards of the practices related to record keeping and information classification, including degrees of confidentiality, ban periods, and topics that fall within the scope of exceptions.
- Spreading the culture of access to information in cooperation with governmental and private agencies and civil society.
- Preparing annual reports on the Authority’s activity and its role in monitoring the government agencies’ commitment to disclosure of information, publishing them on its website, and submitting them to the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the House of Representatives and the Senate.
- Assessing the executive practices related to responding to requests for information, and presenting the necessary recommendations to the concerned bodies.
- Exchanging expertise with national, regional and international bodies, with the aim of strengthening capabilities in relation to the frameworks of access to information and raising awareness about them.
Article (26): The Information Access Authority shall consist of 7 members as follows:
- A chairperson
- A judge, with the rank of deputy head of the State Council, to be nominated by the State Council
- A lawyer
- A university professor specializing in information technology
- A specialist in administrative documents and archives
- A journalist
- A civil society expert
Article (27): Candidates for the chairmanship and membership of the Authority shall have at least ten years of experience in their fields of specialization or professional work.
Article (28): The House of Representatives shall receive applications for candidacy for the chairmanship and membership of the Authority, and candidates shall submit their resumes and experience certificates as well.
- The President of the Republic shall issue a decision appointing the Authority’s chairperson and members, after a two-thirds majority of the members of the House of Representatives approves the candidates for the chairmanship and membership of the Authority.
- In the event of failing to get the two-thirds majority’s approval, the House of Representatives shall conduct a second vote on the candidates with the highest number of votes, and the result shall be approved with an absolute majority.
- The membership of the Information Access Authority shall be dropped in the event of:
- Absence from its meetings for three consecutive or non-consecutive times without excuse.
- Disclosure of information related to appeals being examined by the Authority in a manner other than that specified by law.
- Resignation or death.
- The House of Representatives shall appoint the member whose membership has been dropped in the same manner stated in Articles 27, 28 and 29.
Chapter Seven: Grievances and Appeals
- An applicant whose application to a government agency has been rejected may submit a grievance to the head of the concerned government agency within fifteen days from the date of the decision rejecting access to information.
- The head of the government agency to whom the grievance has been submitted under subparagraph (1) shall issue a decision within ten days.
- The person who submits a grievance to the head of the government agency as per Article 30 or whose request to access information from a private agency was rejected may submit an objection to the Information Access Authority within fifteen days from the date on which he/she was notified of the decision.
- The Information Access Authority, while in the process of examining the grievance mentioned in sub-article (1), may examine and study any record of a governmental or private agency and request any person to provide evidence of the matter.
- In the event of viewing a grievance as per sub-article (1), the Information Access Authority shall give the applicant and the relevant governmental or private agency an opportunity to designate representatives on their behalf.
- The Information Access Authority shall take a decision on the grievance as per sub-article (1) within ten days. It also has the power to reject the grievance, order the disclosure of information or change any fees collected and/or request the agency to take other measures as required by the situation until it becomes committed to that.
- The decision issued by the Information Commissioner as per sub-article (4), which is subject to the provisions of this decision, shall be legally binding.
- An applicant whose grievance submitted to the Information Access Authority has been rejected may submit an objection through the normal procedures to the Administrative Court within 15 days from the date on which he/she was notified of the decision.
- The judge shall issue a judgment in due course upholding, amending or annulling the decision.
Chapter Eight: Encouragement Measures
Article (34): The Prime Minister shall take the necessary measures to enforce the recommendations issued by the Information Access Authority to ensure that all government agencies are committed to implementing them.
- Each government agency shall submit an annual report to the minister in charge of it. The report shall include the agency’s activities in implementing the provisions of this law.
- The report referred to in subparagraph (1) shall include the following: the measures taken to implement the article related to proactive disclosure, the number of access to information requests received, the number of requests approved in full, the number of requests rejected in whole or in part, the number of grievances submitted to the head of the concerned government agency, the number of requests approved as a result of these grievances, and the number of appeals that the Information Access Authority decided on.
Article (36): The information and documents banned from being published in accordance with any other law shall be disclosed after 15 years for the information designated top secret, 10 years for the information designated secret, and 5 years for the information designated confidential. The Information Access Authority shall set rules of classification, share them with the concerned bodies, and monitor compliance with them.
Article (37): All government agencies, in accordance with their work rules, shall abide by the official documents cycle, starting with the current archive it has, and what this entails in terms of transferring documents to the intermediate archive at the Public Archiving House, and ending with keeping documents in the historical archive at the National Archives.
Chapter Nine: Crimes and Protection
Article (38): Whoever commits one of the following crimes shall be punished with a fine of not less than twenty thousand pounds and not more than fifty thousand pounds:
- Obstructing the disclosure of information or refusing to disclose information, thus violating this law.
- Obstructing or rejecting the governmental or private agency’s performance of its duties in accordance with this law.
- Influencing the Information Access Authority’s decisions.
Article (39): Whoever damages or destroys records intentionally, or steals them, shall be punished with a three-year jail term.
Article (40): No civil or criminal measures shall be taken against, nor shall employment penalties be imposed upon any person who has acted in good faith while practicing or performing any of the powers or duties under this law, and an administrative penalty may be imposed on them.
- No person shall be subject to legal, administrative or employment penalties, regardless of the violation of legal or professional duties, due to the dissemination of information on violations, or information that would reveal a serious threat to health, security, or the environment as long as the person acted in good faith and believed that the information was completely correct.
- The term “violations” mentioned in sub-article (1) means the commission of criminal offences, failure to comply with legal duties, obstruction of justice, corruption or dishonesty, abuse of power or serious misconduct, as well as serious threats to public health, safety or the environment, whether or not this is related to the fault committed.
Chapter Ten: Final Provisions
Article (42): The Information Access Authority shall prepare the executive regulations of this law within 90 days from the date of its formation, and the Prime Minister shall issue a decision to put the regulations into force.
Article (43): Government agencies shall be granted a period of 90 days from the date of issuance of the law to prepare internally for the implementation of the obligations contained therein.