Wednesday, 28 September 2011

'Right to know' day

Happy 'Right to Know' day. It's easy to forget as an FOI officer to recognise that you're part of a global network of people engaged in information rights. In many ways in this country we often take our Freedoms - not least that of information - for granted so its worth observing.

The last month has seen a few notable Freedom of Information stories.

'Govegate' is still running and running so I'll hold back from any comment on this at the moment, save remembering the Daily Show's Jon Stewart's comment about Gordon Brown's 'Bigotgate' disaster: "Gate?! You don't get to call that gate!"

The Hillsborough petition brought FOI out of the compliance officer/campaigner dialogue and into the mainstream.

The Camden 'empty properties' tribunal decision has the feel of a 'landmark' in terms of local government FOI. Ultimately the case hung over the Tribunal's judgement in the public interest in the empty properties 'issue' being made higher profile by the disclosure of the property addresses. Does the disclosure of exact property addresses really advance the debate further in a way that the non-address-specific statistical data provided by Camden would not? I'm a bit sceptical about this outcome of this one.

And finally, just to show that the 'right to know' means requests of all shapes and sizes, I give you Decision Notice FS50384351. Someone asked the British Library for an electronic copy of a book. The BL rightly refused under section 21 exemption 'You can get it on Amazon/Information accessible to applicant by other means'. This must have been one of the quickest ICO decisions ever.

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