• 18 December 2014

    Group Complains About Spanish FOI Website

    Access Info Europe Dec. 17 asked the Spanish Ombudsman to look at various “obstacles” to using Spain’s transparency law. The Madrid-based group objected that “requesters may only send information requests via the Transparency Portal by complicated and time-consuming process, which resulted in no member of Access Info Europe has yet having completed the bureaucratic steps […]

  • 18 December 2014

    New Zealand Ombudsman Orders Review of Access

    The New Zealand Chief Ombudsman has ordered a review of the practices of government agencies in processing requests under the Official Information Act (OIA). Dame Beverley Wakem said that 12 central government agencies have been selected for formal review, while a further 63 agencies and all 27 Ministers’ offices are being asked to complete a […]

  • 18 December 2014

    IFAI Orders Disclosure of Database of Professionals

    Mexico’s Federal Institute for Access to Information (IFAI) has ordered the disclosure of the database of the National Registry of Professionals. Commissioner Areli Cano Guadiana also said that greater accessibility should be provided. (See order, in Spanish) The IFAI said sensitive personal data should be exempted from disclosure, including addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. […]

  • 18 December 2014

    FOI Notes: Commentary, Research, Corporate Transparency, More

    Commentary: Maureen Kariuki, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Civil Society Coordinator for Africa and the Middle East, writes about the using the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the OGP to push access to information reforms. OGP: The OGP issues its research agenda, described in a blog post. Corporate Transparency: The topic is addressed […]

  • 17 December 2014

    Uruguayan Court Orders Release of Mine Information

    The Civil Court of Appeals in Uruguay has ordered the release of information about an iron mine, finding that disclosure under an environmental law trumps the company’s confidentiality claim. (See decision in Spanish.) In confirming a lower court decision, the court said the Ministry of Industry must release the information related to the mining project […]

  • 17 December 2014

    South Sudan Approved Right to Information Law in 2013

    South Sudan has a right to information law (text). The little known development occurred a year ago. President Salva Kiir signed the bill on Dec. 9, 2013, and the signing remained unknown for several months, according to African RTI experts, giving rise to speculation that the signature was backdated. The Right of Access to Information […]

  • 12 December 2014

    Hail Mary Option for FOI Bill in Senate Ruled Out

    A last-ditch way to pass freedom of information act reforms in the US Congress this year – bringing up the House bill on the Senate floor – has been ruled out. Although the idea has been considered, it was rejected because of the likelihood that some senators would object, has been told. Without unanimous […]

  • 11 December 2014

    House Speaker Unaware of Plans to Bring Up FOIA Bill

    Republican House Speaker John Boehner Dec. 11 gave no encouragement to supporters of a freedom of information reform bill clinging to hope for last-minute House passage of a bill with no known congressional opponents. “I have no knowledge of what the plan is for that bill,” Boehner said when asked about it by a reporter […]

  • 11 December 2014

    Provision in Mexican Bill Worries Access Activists

    Transparency advocates in Mexico are concerned about a provision in pending legislation that could be used to sanction public officials who disclose or order the disclosure of information. The controversial provision was added late in the process to a package that Congress is considering to flesh the constitutional FOI reforms approved earlier this year. (See […]

  • 11 December 2014

    Spanish Law Effective; Problems Affect First Day

    On the first day that Spain’s access to information law (English version) was effective, Dec. 10, users experienced difficulty using the online request system, according to the lobbying group Access Info Europe. The group reported that it could not manage to make a request. Also, requesters from some EU countries were redirected to websites in […]

  • 11 December 2014

    FOI Notes: Open Data, UK, Philippines, US, Funding

    Open Data: A new report from Open Knowledge documents the growth in the availability of government data. The UK tops the 2014 Index again, closely followed by Denmark and then France at number 3 up from 12th last year. “Overall, whilst there is meaningful improvement in the number of open datasets (from 87 to 105), […]

  • 11 December 2014

    Japan’s State Secrets Law Takes Effect Amid Protests

    Japan’s new state secrets law took effect Dec. 10, with critics still protesting, according to articles in The Ashai Shimbun, The Guardian, Japan Times, The Wall Street Journal and the World Bulletin. The law mandates prison terms of up to 10 years for public officials who leak state secrets. Journalists and those who encourage such […]

  • 10 December 2014

    Archivists Consider Role In Support of Human Rights

    The International Council of Archivists (ICA) is considering adoption of “Basic Principles on the Role of Archivists in support of Human Rights.” The principles, drafted by ICA’s Human Rights Working Group, are now open for public comment, through Jan. 1, 2015. Adoption would represent the first time that archivists have drafted a statement about the […]

  • 10 December 2014

    Banking Lobbyists Opposing FOIA Bill, Sources Say

    Banking lobbyists are urging House leaders not to bring up the Freedom of Information Act Improvement Act of 2014, according to House, Senate and pro-bill sources. The opposition, from unnamed banking interests, comes as the House nears adjournment. Supporters hope the House will squeeze the Senate bill (S 2520) on to the agenda in the […]

  • 9 December 2014

    Afghan President Signs Access to Information Law

    Afghanistan’s president Ashraf Ghani has signed an access to information law for Afghanistan, according to activists, who have campaigned for the law for about five years (English translation). Integrity Watch said Dec. 1 that the action is “a positive step for promoting transparency and accountability,” but also said the law “needs further improvement.” The group […]

  • 8 December 2014

    Senate Approves FOIA Bill; Leahy Makes Slight Change

    The US Senate Dec. 8 unanimously approved amendments to the freedom of information act, with a slight, time-limited concession to the lone senator who had withheld his support. Negotiations with Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) resulted in “report language” – a non-binding, but influential description of Congress’s intent. Rockefeller had objected to a key provision in […]

  • 8 December 2014

    Sen. Rockefeller Defends Objections to Senate FOI Bill

    A few more specifics have emerged about the substance of  a last-minute debate over a Senate freedom of information bill. Both sides say discussions are ongoing while time is running out. Holding up action on the bill (S 2520) is Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W-Va), whose office Dec. 8 provided with a more detailed defense […]

  • 5 December 2014

    Rockefeller Issues Statement Opposing FOIA Legislation

    Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia on Dec. 5 said he opposed a pending freedom of information reform bill because it would have the unintended consequence of impairing enforcement of laws protecting consumers from financial fraud. His four-page statement confirmed reports that he is opposing the widely supported, bipartisan bill (S 2520), apparently the […]

  • 4 December 2014

    Senate Action on FOI Bill Delayed by Rockefeller

    The US Senate Dec. 4 came close to passing reform amendments to the Freedom of Information Act, but the day was suspenseful and inconclusive. With Congress about the leave for a holiday break, only a limited window is available for getting the bill (S 2520) through. Objections from even a single senator, known as “holds,” […]

  • 4 December 2014

    Article 19 Criticizes Proposal for Moroccan Access Law

    The Moroccan government’s proposed freedom of information law continues to get bad reviews. Article 19, the London-based freedom of expression group, on Dec. 1 said the bill “represents a serious setback in the progress towards the recognition of the right to information in the Kingdom of Morocco.” The revised Draft Law No 31.13 on the […]