Monday, July 12, 2004

FOI in the news

Daily Telegraph - Cautious Whitehall keeps the secret state alive
"The Government's passion for secrecy while it talks about openness is revealed today after a study by The Daily Telegraph that raises serious concerns about the new Freedom of Information Act."

Daily Mirror - Cabinet fear freedom law
"Panicky Cabinet ministers held emergency discussions yesterday over how to deal with a new law which will give the public access to their emails. The Freedom of Information Act comes into force in January and ministers are desperate to limit embarrassing revelations that may emerge. As well as personal emails and letters, which until now had been kept secret, meetings between ministers and officials will be made public. During a heated debate in the Thursday Cabinet meeting, ministers agreed to create a central "clearing house" where all requests for data would go. A senior Government source said: "The full implications of this are really starting to hit home."

This news is interesting - will the creation of a central FOI database, create a situation of "traffic lights" tagging documents by sensitivity as described in Canada by Alasdair Roberts in his excellent paper: Spin control and freedom of information: Lessons for the United Kingdom from Canada. Roberts also hosts a database of requests for information filed with departments and agencies of the Canadian government under Canada's Access to Information Act

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