The Freedom of Information Act. Hmm.
Obviously, I’m for the freedom of information. What worries me is what stupid people and stupider media types are going to do with it.
Sometimes Foia will lead to scoops. Sometimes it will just lead to journalists having more background information.
Oh poo. More background shite for journalists to pad out their articles. Sure, they could work to get information, but it’s so much neater just to fill out an FOIA form and expect the story to write themselves. Genius.
And there’ll be loads of people who want to see everything that every organisation in the country has on them. Which will cost them a lot to find out that a) the vast majority of organisations know nothing about them; b) the vast majority of organisations that do know about them have shite data; and c) the organisations that have the really juicy details (-5, that sort of thing) will shove their data through national security loopholes. So, it’ll all be a vast waste of time.
If we had already had freedom of information in Britain, who knows how better informed journalism here would have been on topics like the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, Gulf War syndrome, the hospital ‘superbug’ MRSA or even visas for Filipino nannies.
Ja, und zere vould be peace on earth and goovill among men. And better informed journalists doesn’t necessarily equate better informed population. There’s a wee bit of
agenda pushing self censorship going on in every media outlet on the planet. So, media organisations now have a much bigger pool of information to selectively choose from to fit their opinions.
That said, it’s all for the good that people now have the right to do these sorts of things. I like that I can now go and demand to see what ABC have on me. I won’t bother, but it’s nice to know that I can.
I’ve been getting to read the phrase “not suitable for publication scheme” quite a lot in the last few weeks.
As ever, the rule is bascially that if they’ll give you the information, then it’s probably not worth having. If it’s worth having, it’s exempt.
And if they’re forced to put out something useful, they’ll bury it within four hundred pages of related shite. No-one ever claimed that New Labour couldn’t cover anything up, did they? :p
Actually if you want to find out what info an organisation holds on you it’s done through the Data Protection Act still. FOIA covers info about the organisation itself and the info it uses to make decisions.
And what’s really bizarre is that anyone in the world can make an application for the info as long as it’s done so in writing. And they can make the request in any language they like. So if Bin Laden wants to bring down the UK economy all he has to do is bulk email the UK government every day requesting information and eventually so much of the tax payers’ money will be used employing civil servants to translate, research and approve these requests that we won’t have enough money to spend on troops in Iraq or police on our streets.
Another brilliant idea brought to you by New Labour.
I stand corrected Ollie. And if Osama tries that, we all know where he got the idea from, don’t we?