Freedom of information move opens more public bodies to scrutiny

Today’s announcement that Freedom of Information (FoI) rules will be changed are worth checking out by any public sector communicator – as more of them are to be affected by it.

The move signals the Government’s intention to make it easier for the public to use the Freedom of Information Act to seek details from a wider range of bodies about how public money is spent and decisions taken.

This announcement has formed part of Nick Clegg’s speech on liberty today, which also made proposals to enhance freedom of speech principles by reforming libel laws (an issue which the media has been quick to focus on in its reports).   

Despite the challenges this move poses, I welcome increased transparency and openness across the public sector. It may generate increased work levels for the organisations to be covered by the revised act for the first time; but with openness comes accountability, which is something that I would argue is a good thing. 

It also creates a role for comms teams in supporting organisations who are asked to satisfy FoI requests.

The full press statement covering the Ministry of Justice announcement can be found here.

Links I like 10.12.10

Tabloid hack attack on royals, and beyond – New York Times (log in needed)
Details and arguments surrounding the News of the World’s alleged phone hacking activity are well rehearsed, on both sides. But they are no less fascinating for that. This story in today’s New York Times is one of the better pieces I have read on the controversy, which resurfaced this week with the trial of Scottish Socialist Tommy Sheridan. The most telling quote – which drives at the heart of the ‘public interest’ defence the tabloids often use to justify their intrusive methods – came from Brendan Montague, a freelance journalist.

“It wasn’t finding out wrongdoing. It was finding out a bit of gossip,” he said.

More’s the pity. 



Links I like 10.11.13

Imbalances explained – The Economist
In future, all macroeconomic issues will be explained through hip-hop.

Editor ‘forced to watch Sheridan confession in his underwear’ – The Independent
Perjury trial of former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan takes another bizarre twist.

‘Taking things too far’ – We Love Local Government
‘What is writing equipment exactly?’ (it’s pens, by the way).