Monday, March 05, 2007

Fees proposals - media update

Editors unite over FoI changes - Guardian Media 28/2/07
"An unprecedented coalition of national newspaper editors have personally lobbied government information minister Baroness Ashton in an attempt to head off proposed freedom of information changes.

The group of editors left the meeting with information rights minister Baroness Catherine Ashton of Upholland largely unsatisfied, despite her being "genuinely conciliatory" about the proposed changes and telling editors that "nothing was decided".

Curbs on freedom of information are 'best option' - FT 28/2/07
"Proposals put forward by the government to stop over-burdensome requests under the Freedom of Information Act remain "the best option" currently available, according to the minister responsible for the act."

"If there is a better solution, I would be interested in it," Baroness Ashton said, making clear that the government was consulting beyond the technical questions it had asked on its proposals.

Point of information. More, not less, please - The Times Comment 1/3/07
"The Government describes its proposals as a “blunt instrument”, but that it will be tempered through guidance to be as cooperative as possible. This is naive. Many of those who use FoI regularly have discovered that, while some public bodies bend over backwards to be helpful, others can be less so."

Are we too close to them, or are they too close to us? - Independent Media 4/3/07
"The consultation period ends on Thursday, after which the minister has three months to distil what she has heard, after which it's summer, after which different fingerprints will be on the No 10 doorknob. Having waited all this time for the top job, does Gordon Brown want to make watering down FoI one of his first actions?"

It works, so leave it alone - Sunday Times Leader 4/3/07
"One of Labour’s finer achievements has been to introduce freedom of information to Britain. It has allowed the press and public to root around in government departments and other public authorities to examine the nuts and bolts of how we are governed."

Freedom of information was hard-won: it must not be diluted now - New Statesman 5/3/07
"No government wants its secrets revealed. We should not be surprised that, in power, new Labour is less enthusiastic about "sharing information with the people" than it was in opposition. But Blair was right in 1996. His colleagues should resist pressure to backtrack on a nobly intended piece of legislation which may even be one of the Prime Minister's greatest legacies."

A corrosive compromise - Guardian Leader 5/3/07
"...there is no need for change. The act - itself a compromise - is generally working to the benefit of citizens. It would be an act of folly to emasculate one of the initiatives of which New Labour can feel justifiably proud."

Right to know - The Times Leader 5/3/07
"Politicians find it easy to talk of open government in opposition, but it goes against the grain when they are in power. That is why the Freedom of Information Act, which came into effect in 2005, was such a rare and courageous piece of legislation. It has started to open doors to citizens who pay taxes and who rightly expect to hold their representatives to account. But less than two years into its life, ministers seem to have taken fright."

Also from Monday's Times:
Your right to know - and how the State is trying to stop you
59 things that would have stayed secret

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