maurice_frankel

More than 70 leading organisations have called on the government to scrap proposed changes that will restrict the Freedom of Information Act. 

The letter from leading campaign groups, press organisations and more has been issued as an international summit on open government is held in London today.

Last year the government announced that it was considering making it easier for public authorities to refuse FOI requests on cost grounds.  These proposals are still being considered.

The government says the changes are intended to address the “disproportionate burdens” caused by requesters who make “industrial use” of the FOI Act.
But the 76 organisations say “the proposals would restrict access by all users, including those making occasional requests of modest scope.”

It follows the Information Commissioner, who is responsible for the Act, calling for open data not to replace Freedom of Information in any way.

The letter says:

“Many requests of substantial public interest would be refused under these proposals regardless of the benefits of disclosure. They would have a severe effect on the operation of the FOI Act.”

We find it difficult to reconcile the commitment to become the world leader in openness with the government’s proposals to restrict the FOI Act, which is a critical element of the UK’s openness arrangements. Many requests of substantial public interest would be refused under these proposals regardless of the benefits of disclosure. We hope that the government will mark that commitment by announcing that it will not be bringing forward proposals to restrict the Act.”
The full letter can be seen below.
FOI letter to PM_Page_1
FOI letter to PM_Page_2
FOI letter to PM_Page_3 FOI letter to PM_Page_5 FOI letter to PM_Page_4 FOI letter to PM_Page_6
I am a journalist and author. I am a journalist at the UK edition of WIRED magazine. In 2015, my first book Freedom of Information: A Practical Guide for UK Journalists, was published. My second book Reed Hastings: Building Netflix, was published in March 2020. I created FOI Directory in 2012 and have maintained it in my spare since ever since.