Archives for foi restrictions

76 organisations call on government to drop proposed FOI restrictions

76 campaign groups, charities and press bodies have written to the prime minister urging him to drop proposals to restrict the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. They say the proposals are not compatible with the prime minister’s stated aim of making the UK “the most open and transparent government in the world”.
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New approach to ‘vexatious’ requests demolishes government case for FOI restrictions

More freedom of information (FOI) requests are likely to be refused as vexatious, following official guidance issued last week. But the change removes the government’s case for introducing more fundamental and damaging restrictions to the FOI Act, says the Campaign for Freedom of Information. The Campaign is calling on the government to drop the proposals.
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New government proposals would block complex FOI requests

Government plans to amend the Freedom of Information Act would make it harder for requesters to obtain answers to new, complex or contentious FOI requests, according to the Campaign for Freedom of Information.

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Welcome for select committee’s rejection of FOI charges and restrictions on release of policy discussions

A major review of the Freedom of Information Act which rejects charging for FOI requests or new restrictions on access to policy discussions in Whitehall has been warmly welcomed by the Campaign for Freedom of Information which said the report “would preserve and strengthen the important advances made by the FOI Act”.

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Post legislative scrutiny of the FOI Act

The Campaign has welcomed the Justice Committee’s report on post-legislative scrutiny of the FOI Act, which rejects charging for FOI requests or new restrictions on access to policy discussions in Whitehall. The Campaign made two written submissions to the Committee and gave oral evidence at the Committee’s first hearing on 21 February 2012. You can watch a recording of the session or read an uncorrected transcript of it.

Our initial submission described some areas where the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations are not working as well as they should and suggested a number of improvements such as the introduction of statutory time limits for public interest extensions and internal reviews and the lifting of some absolute exemptions. It also addressed the contracting out of public authority functions to bodies which are not subject to the Act. Recent measures to encourage this process are likely to substantially undermine the public’s rights to information. Finally, it responded to suggestions that changes to the right of access may be introduced to protect cabinet papers, introduce fees for making requests or to make it easier for public authorities to refuse requests on costs grounds. The Campaign made a supplementary submission to the Committee addressing some of the points about the Act’s exemption for policy advice made by Lord O’Donnell and Jack Straw in their evidence to the Committee. This supplementary submission also provided examples of excessive or wasteful spending revealed by FOI, which suggest the Act is likely to play an important role in exposing and deterring excessive spending, which is generally not taken into account when assessing the ‘costs’ of FOI.

No limits on freedom of information? What about the 13 pages of exemptions

This letter by the Campaign was published by The Guardian on 18 July 2012, in response to an article by the commentator Simon Jenkins.

Simon Jenkins takes a hefty swing at the Freedom of Information Act on the grounds that its “total disclosure” damages good government. (For the digital revolution, this is the Robespierre moment, 10 July). But there is no “total disclosure” under FOI as anyone who has grappled with the act’s 13 pages of exemptions knows.

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Freedom of Information and rejected honours

Letter to The Times responding to an article by Matthew Parris arguing that “the advance of Freedom of Information should be reversed.”

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Podcast: Freedom of Information at risk

In this podcast, Maurice Frankel and Katherine Gundersen of the Campaign talk to Nicholas Jones about new threats to the FOI Act and their fear that the review of the Act by the House of Commons Justice Committee could lead to new restrictions

No need for more cabinet secrecy

Letter to The Times responding to comments made by Sir Gus O’Donnell, the outgoing Cabinet Secretary, that the Freedom of Information Act should be amended to provide greater protection for cabinet papers.

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The Blair Memoirs and FOI

That Tony Blair regrets introducing the Freedom of Information Act has been known for some time. But the force with which he reproaches himself in his new autobiography for doing so is truly remarkable: Read More