I was on BBC’s Daily Politics show Thursday, 17 January 2013 discussing opening up government databases with Stephan Skakespeare who is leading the government’s review. The main point I hope I made is that access to data should be determined by what is in the public interest not necessarily that which can turn a profit.
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Check out the Guardian’s Prince Charles page for the latest news on our unelected and unaccountable heir to the throne.
You couldn’t make it up. While the UK Transparency twitter feed was sending out gushing messages about Cabinet Minister Francis Maude’s latest open government agenda, Speaker John Bercow, in cahoots with Tory MP Julian Lewis, was trying a rear-guard action to keep MPs’ expenses secret.
You’d have thought Bercow might remember how his predecessor was brought low due to his obstinate stance on publishing expenses. But no. They’re at it again. Even a High Court ruling isn’t getting in their way. In 2008, MPs argued against my freedom of information request to disclose the full details of their second home allowance and address. They claimed such disclosure would endanger them. They had no proof. Just their own paranoid narcissism. Three of the nation’s top judges ruled in my favour saying that public accountability required the claims and addresses be published. Now some MPs are trying to subvert that ruling by stealth. The new broom, it seems, still has some sweeping to do.
I had a few words to say about it on Sky News.
Newsnight reporter Allegra Stratton reported on the April 5th show (I’m looking for a link to this package) that the Government is planning to introduce fees for making Freedom of Information requests.
We’ve been here before (back in 2004/05) when the law was first introduced. No surprise that politicians who were once in favour of FOI when in opposition suddenly lose their appetite for the people’s right to know once in power. It usually takes about 12 months, so this government is doing well to last as long as it has.
I am of the opinion that it’s unlikely for these moves to succeed. We are still awaiting the report from Parliament’s post-judicial scrutiny on Freedom of Information. And do politicians and bureaucrats really want to come out against FOI at a time when cuts are being made and FOI has shown itself to be one of the most effective (and cost-effective) ways to cut waste, inefficiency and corruption? Making it harder for the citizens to get answers on how public money is spent is going to be a public relations disaster, so I hope sane heads prevail in Parliament.
Above, I am discussing the issue with Jonathan Baume, head of the First Division Association (FDA), the union for senior civil servants:
Random House have done a trailer for my upcoming book: The Revolution Will Be Digitised. Available from August 18th.
Discussing superinjunctions and Twitter on Sky News.
A piece I recorded for the BBC Daily Politics show on the 2011 Census.