FOI Notes: UK, Cambodia, Ukraine, Lebanon, India, US, Budget Transparency

27 April 2017

United Kingdom: “Government has become more secretive, campaigners have warned, as figures show a surge in the number of freedom of information requests being refused by Whitehall departments,” reports The Times of London. “In the last quarter of 2016, 41 per cent of responses to freedom of information requests involved information being “fully withheld”, an increase from 25 per cent in 2010.” Another analysis of new government data comes from Aron Cheung of The Institute for Government who says the data “shows signs of improvement in departments’ response times, but a worrying trend in the percentage of requests that are being withheld.”

Cambodia: “With a seldom-relaxed government stranglehold on proper channels to access and information, reporters are often left with little choice but to blur ethical lines if they hope to serve the public interest,” according to an article in The Phnom Penh Post.

Ukraine: The government has partnered with global technology company the Bitfury Group to put a sweeping range of government data on a blockchain platform, Reuters reports.

Ukraine: Ukraine will sign the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents (the Tromso Convention). The President delegated Pavlo Petrenko, the Minister of Justice to sign the Convention. See relevant decree.

Lebanon: Jean Elliyé writes an article (in French) titled, “Right of access to information: a step towards transparency.”

India: “RTI Act not being implemented in true spirit,” writes Dibyendu Mondal in the Sunday Guardian.

India: The Wire writes about a recent report, “Tilting the Balance of Power: Adjudicating the RTI Act.”

India: The Punjab State Information Commission directs the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, to ignore the RTI queries by a ‘habitual’ Ludhiana-based activist who filed more that 500 RTI requests, ruling that he was “running riot by filing repeated applications seeking inane information.”

United States: The Justice Department is mounting a legal defense of one of the most-publicized counter-transparency moves of the new Trump administration: the Agriculture Department’s decision to take offline a massive set of records on enforcement of laws against animal abuse,” writes Josh Gerstein in Politico.

United States: “Agencies exploit every loophole to evade disclosure requirements,” according to an article by Jason Leopold an Emmy-nominated investigative reporter and correspondent for BuzzFeed, where he reports on national security.

United States: “Why is federal government data disappearing?” asks Joshua New in an article. New is a policy analyst at the Center for Data Innovation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute affiliated with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

Budget Transparency: The International Budget Partnership publishes a new collection of essays, “That’s How the Light Gets In”: Making Change in Closing Political Environments, that “explores new opportunities, new strategies, and new alliances for pursuing fiscal accountability in a tougher political environment.”

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