“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” –Thomas Jefferson
In America, the Freedom of Information Act was signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966. This act allows for the disclosure of previously unreleased documents generated by the government. It has been amended many times over the years, most notable in 1974 after the Watergate scandal and in 1976 when it was limited by the Sunshine Act amendments which provides for situations in which documents can be withheld. It has also been amended to govern electronic communication and was restricted after the events of 9/11.
To read the full text of the FOIA, visit the Department of Justice.