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Whereas in 1990 only a dozen freedom of information (FOI) laws existed, today there are over 85. But do they promise windows into government or merely ineffective window-dressing? The struggle against secrecy has become one of the most important issues of our time. This article examines the contingent nature of FOI by analyzing various window-dressing dilemmas in light of recent developments. It explores the challenges and promise of disclosure laws, drawing on the cases of Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, India, Mexico, and the U.S. The article stresses how presidential-legislative dynamics and media activism powerfully influence the degree of openness and transparency.