FOI Notes: Development, Surveillance, EU, China, Awards

20 December 2013

Development: The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), Development Initiatives, CIVICUS and Beyond Access, IFEX and Article 19 issue a statement on why access to information must be a central pillar in the future of development and outline possible metrics to measure progress (found here).

Surveillance: Some 110 civil society organizations issue a letter expressing concern that secret mass surveillance and the persecution of whistleblowers contradict the ideals of open government. The statement urges Open Government Partnership member governments to include specific commitments in their OGP action plans to overhaul privacy laws, protect whistleblowers, and increase transparency on surveillance mechanisms as well as the export of surveillance technology.

EU: European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has warned that EU citizens don’t feel a strong attachment to the EU and among other recommendations called on EU institutions to become more transparent and accountable.

Open Data: Open Data at local government level in the United Kingdom, a paper by Ben Worthy, Lecturer in Politics, Birkbeck College, University of London.

China:Fiscal Transparency at the Chinese Provincial Level,” by Shulian Deng, Lun Peng and Cong Wang, “Using annual survey data collected between 2009 and 2012, we found that budgetary transparency at the Chinese provincial government level, although showing slight improvement over this period, was still very low, and there was significant volatility in the amount of information disclosed by individual provinces from year to year. These findings are mostly due to a contradiction between the central government’s stated desire for more transparency and deep-rooted institutional and legal barriers against transparency.

Competition: Proposals on access to information are among ideas in a Global Innovation Competition sponsored by Making All Voices Count. There are a total of 196 ideas in the four categories: Budget Transparency, Access to Information, Asset Disclosure and Citizen Engagement. Public voting closes Thursday January 30, 2014 at 11.59 pm EAT (GMT +3). From this selection, 30 semi-finalists will move into the second round, whereby applicants will vote on each other’s ideas and finally, 10 will be invited to Global Innovation Week in Nairobi, where they’ll receive expert mentorship & make one final pitch. On April 3, three winners will be announced. The first-place winner will receive a £65,000 grant plus expert mentorship over a six-month period, two runners-up will each receive a £35,000 grant plus expert mentorship over a six-month period. Seven smaller prizes of £5,000 will also be awarded. To learn more, check this page. The “disagree/down vote” option was removed “due to some questionable use of this facility.”

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