Coronavirus and global shifts: The growing importance of the right to information

The coronavirus pandemic and the countries’ responses to its spread have taken the world to the point where it is quite clear there can be no return to the world as it had been. While being in the middle of the crisis may lead us to exaggerate certain issues, the sheer scale of government intervention means that some of the changes we witness occurring, will be irreversible. Let us take a look and emphasize some trends which may be with us for a long time.

Information and data are not just another tool- they have become the air we all breathe. China’s failure to disclose the real gravity of the epidemiological situation in Wuhan, while it could still have been possible to localize the outbreak, on the one hand, and success of some of the Asian countries, such as Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, in containing the threat without draconian measures but relying on vast amounts of data on the other hand, will finally make access to various kinds of important data an issue of international significance. International organizations will be deployed to develop standards of information sharing (which have this far been pursued with a zeal only in very targeted fields, such as weapons of mass destruction) and mechanisms of sanctioning for non-compliance. This may definitely hurt the interests of businesses which strive on limited access to information, so intense policy conflicts can be expected therein.