Articles on Freedom of information

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Information commissioner John McMillan (pictured right with then minister Brendan O'Connor) has not been replaced since resigning in June, nor has the FOI commissioner who left in January. AAP/Alan Porritt

Closing down FOI: a case study in sneaky government

In a year and a half the Abbott government managed, in practice, to undo the painstaking reforms of the federal Freedom of Information (FOI) system.
‘The people of the United Kingdom’ felt the tobacco industry’s record of addicting children and then killing one in two of those who don’t escape their clutches did matter. Chad Kainz/Flickr

We got an FOI request from Big Tobacco – here’s how it went

Cancer Council Victoria is contesting British American Tobacco's request for survey data about teenagers' smoking habits. Here's the story of a UK research group who faced a similar request.
Notions of the ‘right to know’ forced Hillary Clinton to defend her use of a private email account as secretary of state - a far cry from the days when citizens didn’t even know how their representatives voted. EPA/Andrew Gombert

The right to know vs the need for secrecy: the US experience

The idea of the right to know as the 'lifeblood of democracy' is a surprisingly modern development. And in an age when transparency is prized, privacy and secrecy can still be justified in many cases.
10 years on from UK FoI laws, the keyhole looks to be getting smaller. Mopic

The future of freedom of information looks far from certain

In the UK, thanks to the freedom of information (FoI) laws, the right to know has become routine. Ten years old this month, freedom of information laws have enabled us to inspect a public document, obtain…
There is tension between the need for governments to be trusted to govern and the public’s right to know. AAP/Mal Fairclough

FOI reform needed in Victoria amid East West Link fallout

The disclosure of the full business case for the East West road link in Melbourne confirmed what many had suspected – the project is a dud. The release also unequivocally shows that the Victorian Freedom…
“Who do you trust?” has become a common mantra in Australian politics. Our political leaders should do much more to stop the answer being “no one”. AAP Image/Julian Smith

How to restore trust in politics after the Victorian election

A fundamental lack of trust is at the heart of Australian politicians’ extremely poor reputation. It is the main reason why people’s opinions about their elected representatives have mutated from healthy…
Frivolous? Waste of time? Or vital information for the public? Creative Commons

Used or abused? 11 serious issues raised by FoI requests

A Freedom of Information request lodged on a quiet news day by a journalist has revealed that more than 800 police officers in England and Wales have been investigated for breaching social media guidelines…
Jolly good. Now, about that small matter… Paul Rogers/PA Wire

Explainer: what political clout does Prince Charles have?

A matter concerning Prince Charles, letters written to government ministers and a bid by the Guardian to make them public has been playing out in British courts and the media for the past few years. It…
Make the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns known and we’ll all be better off. David Shankbone

Make surveillance work for the people: let them spy back

Privacy – in our bedrooms, at work, on the street and on the internet – is important to everyone. But every week brings another story demonstrating the ongoing shredding of privacy that undermines those…
The Abbott government has reduced the information flow on asylum seeker arrivals to a weekly briefing. How has the mainstream media responded? AAP/Dan Himbrechts

A deafening silence: the media’s response to asylum secrecy

It is remarkable how complacent Australia’s media has been in response to the federal government’s brazenly cynical suppression of information about asylum seeker boat arrivals. There were a few indignant…

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