Political Science at Huntingdon College
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External links: Access Reports | Campaign for FOI, UK | Carter Center, Atlanta | EPIC | FAS Project on Government Secrecy | FAS archive of CRS reportsFreedomInfo.org | OpenTheGovernment.org | National Security Archive | Privacy.org | Transparency & Secrecy Listserv

See also my: Index to FOIA Links | US FOIA Text as Amended, 2007

Log of Freedom of Information Laws and Policies:

FreedomInfo.US: United States | United Kingdom | Global Developments

Covers access to information; the right to know; privacy; transparency;
official secrecy; declassified information and related issues

compiled by Jeremy Lewis, PhD; revised 11 Feb. 2015.
Any links or pages archived here, were compiled purely for individual scholarly research.  No endorsement is necessarily implied of any views found therein.

Developments in the United Kingdom

The UK supreme court gives its opinion on "judicial authority" in the appeal against extradition of Julian Assange to Sweden to face serious sexual charges (YouTube, UKsupremeCourt, 8', 30 May 2012). By 5-2, the Court finds that Judicial authority in the French interpretation includes a request from a (Swedish) prosecutor, not only from a judge, as in the English sense; The Vienna treaty uses both languages.  Plaintiff's counsel requests two weeks' stay, to consider the novel grounds of the decision for further appeal. 

There followed a 2-year hiatus in this blog while the author, in addition to his teaching duties, served as Chair of the Humanities department, 2012-2014.


Policy adopted by Liberal Democrats in UK:

    Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the governing coalition, committed to extending the FOIA to non government institutions that discharge public functions.  There are 200 such institutions in post Thatcher Britain.  Patrick Wintour, "Nick Clegg takes aim at inequality, bank bonuses and the House of Lords," The Guardian, 19 Dec. 2011

Sorry, owing to pressure of work, a gap developed here Jan-Dec 2011
Below this line revised 29 Jan. '11

Policy change has been dropped:
The Scottish government, facing opposition from government contractors discharging public functions, has dropped plans to include their records in the Scottish FOIA.  It will also, unlike the English government, continue to exclude the police chiefs association from the FOIA.  It still plans to release some records after 15 years rather than the current 30 years, and it does plan sanctions for any tempted to shred records after they have been requested. "Scotland Decides Against Extending Scope of FOIA," FreedomInfo.org, 28 January 2011.
Court case of false accusations in a campaign:
The Woolas case in UK, 2010: did a former New Labour minister of immigration, during an election campaign, falsely smear his Lib Dem opponent, in violation of the 1984 Representation of the People Act?  The court found that he did, and he was disqualified from his seat in the Commons. 
Polly Curtis, "Phil Woolas ejected from parliament over election slurs", Guardian, 5 Nov. 2010
Martin Beckford & Peter Hutchison, "Phil Woolas: What the Judges Said", Telegraph, 5 Nov. 2010
Open Democracy, 'Woolas Judgment: Lying in UK elections is banned,' Nov. 2010
Guardian, Phil Woolas campaign literature gallery, 5 Nov. 2010
The prior history: 
Aislinn Simpson, "Archbishop of York brands immigration minister 'unmerciful'," Telegraph, 28 Nov. 2008 
Excellent new academic article, evaluating the FOIA 2000-2010
Worthy, Ben.  2010.  "More Open but Not More Trusted? The Effect of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on the United Kingdom Central Government," Governance 23 (4): 561–582, [HTML] [PDF] (October 2010), posted online 24 Sep. 2010.  Author is a member of the Constitution Unit, School of Public Policy, University College London.  Abstract: This article examines the impact of Britain's Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 on British central government. The article identifies six objectives for FOI in the United Kingdom and then examines to what extent FOI has met them, briefly comparing the United Kingdom with similar legislation in Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. It concludes that FOI has achieved the core objectives of increasing transparency and accountability, though the latter only in particular circumstances, but not the four secondary objectives: improved decision-making by government, improved public understanding, increased participation, and trust in government. This is not because the Act has “failed” but because the objectives were overly ambitious and FOI is shaped by the political environment in which it is placed.
MP for a Week: the Game.
Answer emails from constituents, ask parliamentary questions, face a baying pack of journalists, organize your time between Westminster and your constituency (YouTube video; help page; game; and website).  To play the award-winning game, you select a level, governing or opposition party, region to represent, and global, domestic, or local issues.  The theme is the difficulty of balancing demands on your time, and the context is a set of images and videos of people in motion in both the old and new buildings of Westminster.  Tasks include cobbling together a debate speech on a bill to reduce homework for school pupils and the frustrating process of attracting the speaker's attention; inviting a variety of serious or trivial witnesses to a committee hearing; asking a parliamentary question of a minister (choose a trivial one or a substantive one).  Measures of value (or game currency) include party reputation, voter support and media profile. Encouragement on surviving the day is followed by videos of advice from a diverse gaggle of MPs.  The game appears a well-crafted simulation with a good compilation of flash videos for those in secondary education.
Report, from Canada, on use of social media among UK MPs:
Social media in the UK Parliament (tweets, podcasts, images shared on Flickr, YouTube videos, online committee consultations with the public, and a popular game of "MP for a week") involve issues such as parliamentary privilege and establishing identities when facilitating  informal electronic communications both among MPs and between MPs and the public. The viewership of the website of the Prime Minister numbered in the millions in just a two month period of early 2010.  Parliament 2020, a visioning project using focus groups, in conjunction with the Hansard society, has made recommendations for social networking in the future. Eichenberg, Havi.  2010.  Social Media, 5. Parliamentary Use in the United Kingdom. Report, Social Affairs Division, Library of the Parliament of Canada. [PDF]
Committee Report on social media for House of Commons:
UK House of Commons. Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons. 2004. “Conclusions and recommendations,” Connecting Parliament with the Public [PDF], First Report of Session 2003–04.
United Kingdom, new government plans:
The new Conservative-Liberal Democrat government's coalition agreement provides that the new government intends to ‘extend the Freedom of Information Act to increase transparency’. See http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk
David Cameron's acceptance speech as Prime Minister complimented the outgoing Labour government for being "more open at home and more compassionate abroad" -- BBC.co.uk live feed, 11 May 2010.
e-Government conference:
Jun 29 – 30 2009, Westminster Business School, University of Westminster, London, UK.  9th European Conference on e-Governmenthttp://academic-conferences.org/eceg/eceg2009/eceg09-home.htm
FOI Conference:
May 12 – 13 2009: 5th Annual FOI Conference, London, UK. Organized by Freedom of Information Journal. Current advice and practical guidance in handling key FOI compliance issues. http://www.pdpconferences.com/.
Report on FOI and records management:
'The impact of the UK Freedom of Information Act on records management in the public sector' project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for 14 months (2008-2009). -- note received 18 June 2008.  See https://www.ucl.ac.uk/slais/research/icarus/foi-impact/
"The UK Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into force in January 2005. The Act imposes significant duties and responsibilities on public authorities to give access to information. To achieve this, public authorities need to know what information they hold, manage and retrieve information effectively, deal expeditiously (within 20 days) with FOI requests, and disseminate information through a publication scheme. As was made clear in the Lord Chancellor’s Code of Practice on the management of records published in compliance with FOIA (s 46), effective records management enables authorities to meet these obligations and underpins FOI. Together with Data Protection Act 1998 and Modernising Government agenda, FOI is a significant part of the wider government agenda to increase openness, transparency, trust and accountability in the public sector. The impact of information policy and freedom of information on public services and the effectiveness of public authorities in meeting their obligations are significant factors in the accountability of government to its citizens and of concern to all."
"The central research question is: what has the impact of the UK Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 been on records management services in public authorities? More specifically, the project will examine:
(a) how well records management services prepared for and coped with the first three years of FOI implementation
(b)what contribution records management services make to the ability of public authorities to comply with the FOI Act
(c) how the user experience of FOI is affected by the management of records
(d) what the implications are of FOI so far for good practice in records management."
"The research will seek to discover the impact of FOI and its link with records management from three perspectives:
1. records managers
2. institutional FOI policy managers
3. FOI requesters and user communities"
"We aim to demonstrate how each group contributes to and benefits from the inter-relationship between records management and FOI. It will also identify examples of good practice which can be shared within the records management and public sector communities and will disseminate theoretical and policy findings to the professional, academic and public policy communities through publication."
"For further details please contact Dr Elizabeth Shepherd, e.shepherd@ucl.ac.uk, or Dr Alice Stevenson (Research associate) alice.stevenson@ucl.ac.uk"
FOI training course:
27 Apr. in London, and 30 Apr. 2009, in Birmingham, UK.  The Campaign for Freedom of Information UK offers a training course on the UK's Information Commissioner and Tribunals.  It covers the way the main exemptions, the public interest test and the legislation's procedural requirements are being interpreted. http://www.cfoi.org.uk/
Prince Harry, brief deployment to war:
Prince Harry, deployed as 2d Lt., combat air controller in Afghanistan, is withdrawn following exposure in Australia and via the Drudge Report (on web) of his location. The British media had for ten weeks of deployment (and months beforehand) respected an agreement of access to the prince while embargoing publication until after he left.
BBC report: Harry Withdrawn from Afghanistan
BBC: Prince Harry on Afghan Front line
"Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt, who is head of the British Army, said he was disappointed the news had leaked.  In a statement, he said: "I am very disappointed that foreign websites have decided to run this story without consulting us.  This is in stark contrast to the highly responsible attitude that the whole of the UK print and broadcast media, along with a small number overseas, who have entered into an understanding with us over the coverage of Prince Harry on operations.""
Transparency, Parliamentary expenses:
Transparency of parliamentary staff expenditures is called for, would expose large payments to families of some MPs, as staff in no-show jobs.  Prompted by scandal. "Derek Conway facing police investigation," By Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor, Daily Telegraph, 30 Jan. '08