FOI Notes: EU, Indonesia, Mexico, Afghanistan, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, OGP, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Denmark, India, UAE, Transparency Research, Open Data

16 March 2017

European Union: The European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly opens an inquiry into whether the Council of the EU allows sufficient public scrutiny of the evolving discussions on draft EU laws. She puts 14 questions to the Council on how legislative documents arising from meetings of Member State Ambassadors and deputy Ambassadors, plus the over 150 committees and working parties of national civil servants are handled in accordance with EU transparency standards. The European Ombudsman’s letter to Secretary-General of the Council is available here.

European Union: The Council of the EU’s 2011 Guidelines for handling of documents internal to the Council contravene the EU’s 2001 regulation on public access to EU documents, the Dutch parliamentary attorney says in a report. The Council’s rules state that texts “which are internal to the Council must bear the marking ‘LIMITE,’ the lowest of five levels of secrecy classification, reports the EU Observer.

Indonesia: Indonesia’s highest court orders President Joko Widodo’s administration to hand over detailed maps of land on which oil palm companies have been licensed to operate, “adding momentum to a civil society push for greater transparency over the management of the country’s vast natural resources,” reports Monga Bay.

Afghanistan: Danish Karokhel writes the first book on the Afghan Access to Information act.

Mexico: Information commissioners in Veracruz are paid twice as much as the governor, according to an article by El Universal.

Ghana: A progress report by Nicholas Adamtey, Transparency and Accountability Initiative (Ghana), for the Open Government Initiative, evaluates why Ghana has yet to meet its stated goal of passing a FOI bill. “To proceed on the bill, the IRM researcher is suggesting establishing a working group comprising MPs, CSO and other stakeholders to iron out some of the issues identified as “technicalities, ambiguities, knotty clauses and apprehensions concerning some of the provisions.”

OGP: The OGP’s 2016 Annual Report.

Senegal: A proposed on law on access to information will strengthen Senegalese democracy, according to an APS article (in French) describing plans to create a law.

Burkina Faso: The law passed may or may not be in effect, having not yet been officially published, according to an interview with Jean Paul Toé, director general of media observation and studies at the Higher Council of Communication.

Pakistan: “The government continues to drag its feet over the issue of enacting a right to information law and putting in place institutional mechanisms so that citizens are able to seek information on any matter from federal public bodies and whenever they want,” writes Zahid Abdullah in Dawn.

Pakistan: The Sindh Assembly on unanimously approved a Transparency and Right to Information Bill, according to The Dawn and The Nation.

Brazil: The Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) and nonprofit Transparency Brazil launch the project Achados e Pedidos (Request and Found), which aims to be the country’s largest platform for requests and responses to the Law of Access to Information (LAI), as well as a tool to monitor compliance with the legislation. See article about the effort.

Ivory Coast: A workshop is held in Yamoussoukro on updating of the law on access to information, described in an article (in French). Concerns are raised about the timeliness of the actions taken by the Commission for Access to Public Information and Public Documents.

Court Transparency: There is a huge gulf between civil and common law countries on openness around court decisions, according to research conducted recently by the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) and the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI).

Denmark: A report (in Danish) from Ombudsman Jørgen Steen Sørensen critically evaluates two major blackout rules.

Sri Lanka: “It is encouraging to see that Sri Lanka’s Right to Information (RTI) Commission has released its 2017 budget estimate, including the salary scales of the Commission members and staff along with its recruitment procedures and cadre provision,” The Daily Mirror reports.

Article 19: Article 19, the London-based NGO, launches The Global Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy, “a ground-breaking document which provides a comprehensive, updated framework on the mutually reinforcing nature of these two rights in the digital world.”

Algorithmic Transparency: Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, has penned a 28th-birthday letter for his creation in which he identifies three trends he thinks are harming the web, and explains how the Web Foundation that he heads will seek to implement his ideas. First, control of personal data; second, fake news and social networks role in spreading it; and third, targeted political advertising being used to deliberately misinform. He also wrote, “We need more algorithmic transparency to understand how important decisions that affect our lives are being made, and perhaps a set of common principles to be followed.”

UAE: The UAE continues to operate on transparency with its people, says Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nayhan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, at the concluding session of the Public Diplomacy and Government Communication Forum, according to Gulf News.

Open Data: “8 Guidelines to Help Deliver on the Promise of a Transparent Government,” described by the Civic Analytics Network. a consortium of Chief Data Officers and analytics principals in large cities and counties throughout the United States.

  1. Improve accessibility and usability to engage a wider audience.
  2. Move away from a single dataset centric view.
  3. Treat geospatial data as a first class data type.
  4. Improve management and usability of metadata.
  5. Decrease the cost and work required to publish data.
  6. Introduce revision history.
  7. Improve management of large datasets..
  8. Set clear transparent pricing based on memory, not number of datasets.

Open Data: The  Horizon2020 project, Raising Open and User-Friendly Transparency Enabling Technologies for Public Administrations (ROUTETOPA), works to bridge the gap between open data users and open data publishers. Read the project overview in this post and find more information on the project here.

Transparency Research: Albert Meijer, Stephan Grimmelikhuijsen and Erna Ruijer write an article “Open data for democracy: Developing a theoretical framework for open data use,” published by Government Information Quarterly. “In the article we distinguish three democratic processes; monitorial, deliberative and participatory processes. We argue that each process requires a different approach and open data design, thereby using Activity Theory.”

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