Thursday, April 28, 2016

Avoiding freedom of information in the UK

Like other countries, the UK has a Freedom of Information Act requiring them to disclose government information (subject to withholding grounds) to anyone who asks. Ministers don't like that - public scrutiny is so inconvenient - and now they've been caught deliberately trying to avoid it by using WhatsApp:

The Government is facing calls to be investigated over claims ministers supporting the Remain campaign have used WhatsApp to discuss strategy away from official channels.

A private group on the encrypted messaging service has reportedly been used to exchange texts by people guiding the campaign to keep Britain in the EU, prompting allegations that details are being kept secret from the public.

According to The Sun, one senior Tory warned attempts to avoid transparency laws could lead to "scandal and embarrassment" for the Remain group, and Labour MPs are said to have called for the Information Commissioner to probe the claims.

Context: the "Remain" campaign is run by the government. So we have government Ministers trying to discuss government business in secret. Which simply isn't legal. Hopefully the Information Commissioner will remind them of the law, and force release of this material pour encourager les autres.