The good people over at My Society have just sent over a very thorough and informative leaflet, with information on the current consultation looking at possible changes to be made to the way we make Freedom Of Information Requests (FOI).
The Freedom of Information Act gives people the right to access information held by public sector organisations. Anyone can make a request, and there are no restrictions on age, nationality or where you live. This almost unfettered right has been monumental in highlighting unethical and illegal conduct by public sector bodies and as a result, improving government. The proposed changes would make it very difficult for wrongdoing to be brought out into the open because they severely limit the public’s right to information.
The leaflet explains that when similar changes were made to FOI requests in Ireland, its use fell by 50% and media requests dropped by 83%. A helpful summary of the major changes proposed are also added. They are:
- A charge for making Freedom of Information requests
- A block on information about internal discussions in public authorities
- A veto for ministers when responding to requests for government information
- A lower threshold on requests turned down for reasons of cost
My Society outlines the four main ways in which you can stop this from happening if you disagree with the proposals:
- Sign the petition (At the time of writing this petition has already garnered over 104,000 signatures)
- Write to your MP urging them to support keeping FOI requests as they are
- Tell your story – have you used FOI? Did it help you or the greater good? Then do think about sharing your story via the Save FOI website.
- Submit your views to the Consultation team.
If you’d like more information on FOI, we wrote an article about it recently, voicing our concerns about the proposals, and why we feel the request process should not be changed.
The consultation deadline is November 20th.
For fellow tweeters, the hash tag is #SaveFOI