FOI Notes: Malaysia, UK, Nigeria, Zambia, Georgia, Canada, US, Mexico, Open Data

11 May 2017

Malaysia: A three-judge panel rejects a parliamentarian’s request for information based on the Constitution, according to an article in Free Malaysia Today. The court in its decision notes the lack of a national FOI law.

United Kingdom: The Campaign for Freedom of Information warns that proposed reforms to the Official Secrets Act would put it on a “collision course” with the FOIA, according to an article in The Press Gazette. “Under the proposals, journalists would only have a defence if the information had been both lawfully disclosed earlier (e.g. through a freedom of information request) and widely disseminated,”

Nigeria: Journalists in Kwara State call on the federal government to ensure the full implementation of the FOI Act, according to an article in Kwara News.

Zambia: The government is still determined to pass a FOI bill, the Daily Mail reports.

Georgia: The Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure adopted the Transparency and Integrity Strategy and Action Plan for 2017-2020. The documents were created by the NGO Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) in partnership with the ministry, and the support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project Democratic Governance Initiative (GGI) in Georgia. The strategy includes 4 priority areas: 1. improving existing mechanisms of ethics and integrity, 2. increasing transparency and public participation, 3. improving the human resources management system, and 4. improving the system of planning, monitoring and internal financial control. See the policy documents.

Canada: The Quebec Access to Information Commission (CAI) rejects a request for access to 2493 pages of public documents because the organization can not put them on a USB stick because there is no space on the key!,” writes Le Devoir columnist Pierre Trudel. Also reported by Branchez Vous. 

United States: A top Republican legislator tells a dozen government agencies not to disclose communications with his committee under the FOIA. His letter was first disclosed by Buzzfeed and stirred strong objections. Later he seems to reverse his position, reports The Dallas News. Groups protest his letter, as reported by Buzzfeed. The issue, however, remains alive, as summarized by Government Executive, with several agencies promising to comply.

Nigeria: The use of FOI requests is a key part of a strategy to learn about how government contracts are being implemented, according to an article published by the Open Contracting Partnership.

Mexico: An article describes the Open Government Metric, commissioned by the National Institute of Access to Information (INAI).

Open Data:new research report by the Centre for Municipal Research and Advice in South Africa, supported by Making All Voices Count, discusses these questions with a range of civil society groups. It comes up with ten different ways that they use open government data – and discusses some of the challenges and obstacles that they face in sourcing, understanding and using it, according to an article by Karen Brock.

United States: Under a deadline set by the DATA Act of 2014, federal agencies must begin reporting spending to the Treasury Department using a common data format. And Treasury has published it all online, in one piece, offering a single electronic view of the world’s largest organization, writes Hudson Hollister of the Data Coalition. Also see article The Hill.

Beer and FOIA: The Accra Brewery in Ghana supports World Press Freedom Day with a top executive calling for passage of a right to information bill, GhanaWeb reports.

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