Recently the Government published its response to Parliament’s post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act. I wrote a response to this in the Sunday Times. The Sunday Times, 24 December 2012 The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has always sat uncomfortably with the British government. Britain was one of the last western democracies to [...]
Pressing Matters House Magazine, 6 December 2012 (Download the PDF) It is deeply disturbing to read Brian Leveson’s recommendations on regulating the press at a time when police and security services are trying to legalise the broadest surveillance powers yet on ordinary citizens. The Leveson Inquiry was “sparked by public revulsion about a single action [...]
This is a slightly longer version of an article I wrote for The Times last week about the UK Government’s proposal for industrial internet surveillance: the ‘snooper’s charter’. The following day, the Government announced it would NOT be putting the bill forward in the Queen’s speech but it still remains very much a live issue. [...]
The Lords Communications Committee report, “The Future of Investigative Journalism”, (HL: 263 – pdf) was published 16 February and I’ve written an article in response for House magazine. Report Review March 1, 2012, The House ‘The starting point for this inquiry, as already mentioned, has been that responsible investigative journalism should be protected and encouraged, [...]
In its punitive treatment of accused leaker Bradley Manning, the US government has missed an opportunity to live up to its values of freedom, says Heather Brooke After 18 months, accused leaker gets a day in court Index on Censorship, 16 Dec 2011 After nearly 18 months’ incarceration and punitive treatment described as “torture” by [...]
How the US government secretly reads your email The Guardian, 11/12 October 2011 Secret orders forcing Google and Sonic to release a WikiLeaks volunteer’s email reveal the scale of US government snooping Somewhere, a US government official is reading through a list of those who sent or received an email from Jacob Appelbaum, a 28-year-old [...]
As Lord Justice Leveson prepares to investigate newspaper conduct, I joined three other writers to discuss ‘How far can the press go in the public interest?’ The press will die if it fails in its duty to serve the public interest The Times, 27 September 2011 The ethics of what should or shouldn’t be published [...]
An abbreviated version of this article appeared in today’s (London) Times. The WikiLeaks ‘hero’ is actually morally bankrupt The Times, 23 September 2011 One question I’m often asked about my long investigation into MPs’ expenses is whether I was ever threatened with retribution. The answer is no. The closest I came was John Prescott getting [...]
Investigative journalism must not be criminalised Guardian, 9/10 September Police questioning of journalists such as the Guardian’s Amelia Hill who seek to uncover corruption is a worrying trend The questioning under caution of the Guardian reporter Amelia Hill by the Metropolitan police is part of a worrying trend: for the police appear to be using [...]
Freedom of information is for businesses too Guardian, 1/2 September 2011 Is scientific research endangered by Philip Morris’s freedom of information request? Not when we all benefit A request by tobacco giant Philip Morris International to the University of Stirling has reignited concern about the use of freedom of information laws. The data it was [...]
As part of my research for ‘The Revolution Will Be Digitised’ I hung out in a lot of hackerspaces and met many hackers. A lot of people think hackers are synonymous with cybercriminals but the real picture is more complex. The full story is in the book but here I pick out a few highlights [...]
Writing In The Digital Revolution The Huffington Post, 12 August 2011 By Heather Brooke As the news agenda goes into warp speed, it becomes ever more difficult for authors writing about current events to keep their books timely and relevant. Seismic events race by at almost weekly intervals: phone hacking gives way to the Norwegian [...]
Bradley Manning’s health deteriorating in jail, supporters say Guardian, Thursday 16 December 2010 By Heather Brooke The intelligence analyst suspected of leaking US diplomatic cables is being held in solitary confinement As Julian Assange emerged from his nine-day imprisonment, there were renewed concerns about the physical and psychological health of Bradley Manning, the former US [...]
Here are a few links to the Vatican articles I worked on (Sorry for delayed posting). Vatican refused to engage with child sex abuse inquiry 11 Dec 2010: Leaked cable lays bare how Irish government was forced to grant Vatican officials immunity from testifying to Murphy commission. Pope wanted Muslim Turkey kept out of EU [...]
WikiLeaks cables: Saudi princes throw parties boasting drink, drugs and sex Guardian, Tuesday 7 December 2010 By Heather Brooke Royals flout puritanical laws to throw parties for young elite while religious police are forced to turn a blind eye In what may prove a particularly incendiary cable, US diplomats describe a world of sex, drugs [...]
WikiLeaks cables: Bradley Manning faces 52 years in jail Guardian, 30 November 2010 By Robert Booth, Heather Brooke and Steven Morris Bradley Manning, a US army intelligence analyst, is suspected of leaking more than 250,000 diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. Bradley Manning will wake up tomorrow, at a military base in Virginia, to his 189th day [...]
WikiLeaks cables: ‘Rude’ Prince Andrew shocks US ambassador Guardian, 29 November 2010 By David Leigh, Heather Brooke and Rob Evans Duke railed against France, British anti-corruption investigations into BAE and American ignorance, leaked dispatches reveal. Prince Andrew launched a scathing attack on British anticorruption investigators, journalists and the French during an “astonishingly candid” performance at [...]
WikiLeaks: The revolution has begun – and it will be digitised Guardian, 29 November 2010 By Heather Brooke The web is changing the way in which people relate to power, and politics will have no choice but to adapt too. Diplomacy has always involved dinners with ruling elites, backroom deals and clandestine meetings. Now, in the [...]
We are denied even the barest details of what goes on in supposedly public legal proceedings.
The exemption from scrutiny under Freedom of Information shows the status gap between Crown and public interest.
As the major political parties jostle for position in the run-up to the general election, it’s clear that the way the next government monitors and controls information about us will fundamentally shape British society in the next decades.
The secrecy and utter lack of accountability surrounding those public officials charged with overseeing UK elections.
Secrecy feeds suspicion of a boys’ club stitch-up. Chief constables need to be open on pay and perks.
The information age may have arrived some decades ago but from the format of yesterday’s publication of MPs’ expenses, Parliament is so last century.
When it comes to politicians advocating open government the best advice is to ignore what they say and focus on what they do.
Gordon Brown’s reforms may include some much-needed changes to MPs’ expenses, but they don’t go far enough.
The realism of The Wire is due in no small part due to the ability of the writers to get inside the institutions they cover. Could such a show be written in the UK?
When only one police force is willing to tell the public what it pays its Chief Constable in bonuses curiosity is piqued. What do they have to hide?
In the US politicians must be responsive to the electorate or face imminent extinction.
Once upon a time people complained of rarely seeing a bobby on the beat. Now they’re lucky to get a full glimpse of a policeman’s face.
I look forward to receiving my American ballot. It’s a shot of pure democracy which I long for after the faux democracy of the UK.
Public services should be for the many not the few.
Government bureaucrats spend a lot of money telling us what they wants us to know but very little on what we actually want to know, namely how they spend our money.
The UK is one of the most watched societies in the world, yet the police are loath to release crime data.
It works in America – and could help to improve crime clear-up rates dramatically.
The three-year-battle with the House of Commons has been met with obstruction and obfuscation at every turn.
Police forces across the UK are spending £39m each year on press and PR.
A senior police worker is facing a disciplinary hearing for “damaging the reputation” of West Yorkshire police.
My battle to make MPs’ expenses more transparent met with obstruction and mystification.
The first-ever disclosure of compensation payouts for public liability claims and clearly shows the value of freedom of information.
When you see one of these bossy, passive-aggressive signs threatening the public with prosecution or arrest, you quickly know two things about the institution you’re dealing with.
Two weekends ago at the V Festival, revellers were surprised to see a remote-controlled surveillance drone flying and filming overhead.
Observations on Facebook and friendship.
Local authorities are increasingly using the free application from the search giant on their websites, bypassing Ordnance Survey.
The libel laws are an abomination. They favour rich, litigious bullies at the expense of free expression.
Heather Brooke on the alarming growth of the State’s right to enter your property.
The prospect of escaping scrutiny from prying eyes is so tempting that MPs do not realise the colossal damage they are doing to their own reputations.
Article for US Sunshine Week on Britain’s FOI laws.
Two years on and the Freedom of Information Act has been enough of a success to warrant its possible demise.
Just as researchers are beginning to use the Freedom of Information Act for serious investigative research, the government has announced changes that will block all but the silliest and simplest requests.
New techniques of accessing data online could lead to a revival of serious and challenging investigative reporting.
The law of the land is unreadable – due to Crown Copyright.
The Information Commissioner thinks that journalists should be imprisoned for up to two years for paying private detectives to obtain information.
How can public information be free if there’s a charge?
As pending FOIA complaints reach 1500, Heather Brooke explains how the regulator needs to sharpen up its act.
Government’s ‘iron grip’ on raw law data is denying public access.
Few of us would assume we could claim more than £120,000 in expenses every year without handing over receipts to the boss. Yet that’s exactly what Westminster MPs are doing.
Forget all this namby-pamby peaceful protesting. The only way to grab a politician’s ear is to do so with force. That’s the loud and clear message from the authorities.
The sex offenders register should be made public
The Victorians made Britain the envy of the world for public toilets. Ever since, we’ve been sitting on our laurels.
The UK watchdog charged with ensuring that public bodies obey the new Freedom of Information Act already has a huge backlog of appeals that will take years to clear. An even greater surprise is that these figures, along with early decisions, were withheld and were only made public after filing an FOI request.
Journalist’s Toolbox on investigating the arms trade
It was meant to shine a light on state power. And in its first year of operation the Freedom of Information Act has successfully illuminated some rats and cockroaches, but central government remains an unturned stone.
Examining data from the Crown Prosecution Service.
Criminal suspects are up to eight times more likely to go free in some parts of the country than others because of a postcode system of justice.
The Crown Prosecution Service’s own data on the outcome of cases reveals huge variations in performance by its lawyers and administrators across England and Wales.
The secret policeman has a ball.
Politicians are stumbling around Parliament, giddy from binge lawmaking.
Has anybody in Britain actually read ’1984′?
Why we must cut the costly Crown copyright
Get rid of these paternalistic laws.
The four hundred laws that shackle your right to know.
The first national “Sunshine Week” has just come to an end in the US.
The Houses of Parliament have been revealed as rich pickings for thieves.
In a modern democracy we should not have to go begging for scraps of information.
Just what do councils plan to publish online to comply with the Freedom of Information Act?
Privacy and public accountability may seem mutually exclusive but
social care professionals must learn quickly how to straddle the divide.
How can evidence be heard but not read? On the odd rules of evidence highlighted by a royal memo.
Government departments have been shredding record numbers of official files in the months leading up to the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.
Observations on food.
The American experience shows that televising court proceedings does a lot more good than harm.
British MPs, now grumbling about having to disclose their expenses would do well to look at their United States counterparts and count themselves lucky.
Heather Brooke explains her determination to vote in the key battleground state.
The UK’s Freedom of Information Act is proving its worth even before it comes into force.