Monday, February 05, 2007

The OIA does not allow retrospective extensions

The government has gone back to work, and so I'm finally receiving responses to some of the OIA requests filed before Christmas. One which arrived in the mail today from Jim Anderton was particularly amusing. He was granting himself an extension of 10 working days from January 19th to handle a request. The letter was written on February 2nd - his new deadline. Hopefully this means I'll be getting a response sometime this week, but in the meantime I think Anderton needs to renew his knowledge of the law. While he can certainly grant himself an extension if required to fulfil a request, he cannot do so after the fact. It would be nice if Ministers actually complied with the law, rather than treating it as a joke.

Meanwhile, I've also received a document with numerous exclusions covered by a black, shiny substance (normally, they use vivid and a photocopier). If anybody has any suggestions as to how best to remove it without damaging the underlying text, I'd love to know.


Doubt you'll find a solvent that differentiates laser toner (or whatever ink is on the paper) from whatever the opaque coating is. If going down that track, you could get a small piece and have a friendly chemist analyse it.

You might be better off with some sort of electromagnetic scan. I'm not sure what resolution NMR scanners operate at, but you might be able to use one to identify the writing, based on the different chemical composition of paper/toner/opaque stuff. Or (simpler) infrared. Or maybe use beta or gamma radiation, which might give you a result based on different amounts of attenuation - I'm thinking that X or gamma rays would pass through with the effect of the different layers being unmeasurable.

Sounds like a great physics/chemistry project! You'll probably find that the cypherpunks mailing list has one person who knows the answer, 50 people who claim to know the answer and 2000 people who want to discuss how your doing this will/will not destroy western civilisation.

Posted by Rich : 2/06/2007 09:59:00 AM

A member of this govt granted themselves a retrospective let-off? Surely not???

Laws are made to be suspended.


Posted by Anonymous : 2/07/2007 01:02:00 AM

M'Lud: any official faced with an OIA request can grant themselves an extension. To his credit, Anderton realised he had to. Most Ministers are simply late, with no explanation.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 2/07/2007 07:42:00 AM