FOI Notes: EU, US, Development, Open Data, Media, Australia

13 December 2013

European Union: The European Ombudsman rules that the European Medicines Agency was not justified in refusing access to Periodic Safety Update Reports at the time the requests for public access were made. “However, in light of the change in practice of the EMA in relation to granting access to PSURs, the Ombudsman finds that EMA has now settled this aspect of the complaint.” Concerning the failure to grant public access to reports on the dextropropoxyphene and paracetamol combination and on topical ketoprofen, the Ombudsman “considers that EMA failed to reason properly its decisions refusing access.”  The ruling also says, “As regards the failure to grant public access to a reference Member State assessment report on the risk management plan for rimonabant, EMA erred when it failed to provide a valid justification for the redaction of an assessment report requested by the complainant.”

In a “final remark,” the ombudsman observes, “By establishing a comprehensive publicly accessible register of documents, EMA would assist citizens who request access to documents in the possession of EMA.

United States: A report from For Effective Government “is designed to be a practical guide for the administration and agency staff engaged in improving FOIA regulations and practices.” It recommends agencies adopt the eight best practices for agency FOIA regulations.

Expand proactive online disclosures

Use the Internet to process requests more efficiently

Acknowledge and track FOIA requests promptly

Clearly and proactively communicate with requesters

Apply a presumption of disclosure and prevent the destruction of records

Limit and streamline confidential business information claims

Clarify fees and waiver

Improve administrative appeals and dispute resolution

Development Agenda: A short briefing paper done jointly by ARTICLE 19, Civicus, Development Initiatives, Beyond Access and the International Federation of Libraries and Library Associations (IFLA) for the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals on why and how to include RTI and other related issues in the Post 2015 Agenda.The briefing is available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic.

E-Government: “The use of open government data has declined since last year, a new study by the Initiative D21 and the Institute for Public Information Management (ipima) reported at a press conference in Berlin today,” according to a blog post. The fourth edition of the eGovernment Monitor saysthe number of users of eGovernment services in Sweden in 2013 was 53 percent, compared to 70 percent in 2012. On average, the decline was as high as 8 percent in those countries that were monitored. Numerous data breach scandals and the revelations about pervasive surveillance were obvious reasons for the heightened caution, the researchers wrote in their summary.

Australia: Presentation about the law by John McMillan, Australian Information Commissioner, including three “gloomier themes” and predictions.

United Kingdom: Journalists begin requesting ‘if asked’ statements prepared for officials, writes Richard Osley.

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