Jacking Up The Price of Freedom

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foi1foiTheStory.ie is a crowd-funded investigative website run by journalists Gavin Sheridan (who co-founded the site with Mark Coughlan) and Ken Foxe and lawyer Fred Logue that sources Freedom of Information documents.

It has obtained a mass of unseen data since it began four years ago, funded by public donations.

Gavin writes:

As time went on we developed new techniques for seeking data rather than paper, techniques to obtain large amounts of information with a single request, included billions of euro of previously undisclosed public expenditure. We have trained journalists in Ireland, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary and Spain.

However, proposed changes to the funding of FOI requests (including a raft of hidden charges) could spell their end.

Gavin adds:

We’ve had sight of new amendments to the FOI Bill 2013 proposed by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform [above].

We will be blunt: if passed, Freedom of Information is dead. TheStory.ie will, in all likelihood, cease all FOI requests. And we will not seek funding from the public to support an immoral, cynical, unjustified and probably illegal FOI fee regime.

We will not pay for information that the public already pays for. We will not support a system that perpetuates an outrageous infringement of citizen rights.

READ ON: Killing Freedom of Information in Ireland (Gavin Sheridan, TheStory.ie)

30 thoughts on “Jacking Up The Price of Freedom

      1. Just sayin

        Its not a solo run – all legislation is agreed before publication by Cabinet. Howlin is the responsible Minister

  1. Am I Still on This Island

    Disgraceful, all government information that does not involve information critical to the security of the state, should be available easily and at minimum cost to any citizen.

  2. FFS

    Assuming the TDs are representatives of the people, then I cannot how see how this could possibly pass. It is entirely anti-democratic.

    This kind of thing will be rampant with only one house, particularly if there is a single party majority. They’ll ram anything through.

    And people wanted to abolish the Seanad?

    The government don’t want people to see the dirty dealings they get up to while lining their pockets and the pockets of foreign lobbyists.

  3. Just sayin

    People with other jobs often have to put everything aside and spend days researching these FOIs. I’m afraid fees are necessary so civil and public servants don’t spend all their time on FOI requests to the detriment of their actual jobs.

    1. FFS

      Not good enough.

      The people have a right to the information so a fully staffed department needs to be set up. The excuse about it taking time is only being used to avoid doing it at all.

      1. Just sayin

        ” so a fully staffed department needs to be set up”

        Are you kidding me? The Department of Expenditure won’t even allow us to replace people who have retired. They want us to do more with less. FOI requests are the least of our worries. When your back is against the wall and you have to prioritise doing the most basic aspects of your job, FOI becomes a real luxury you just don’t really have the time for. That’s the reality.

          1. Just sayin

            Thank you for your detailed analysis on how the public sector can best address the challenges of FOI. Are you always this insightful?
            How about I walk into your workplace and make unreasonable demands of you and your colleagues?

          2. ABM's Bloodied Underwear

            Pricing FOI out of most people’s ability to pay is not the best way to address the challenges of FOI. It’s also unreasonable.

      1. Just sayin

        I don’t believe government can do its work completely in the open. The main benefactors of that would be lobby groups who have the money and resources to examine and exploit that openness. People can be a bit naive about openness. Imagine a private business did its work in a completely open and transparent way – it’d go broke in a few years as competitors and customers exploited that openness for their own ends.

          1. Just sayin

            I think it principle its bad legislation. In practice, the resources just aren’t there to implement a proper FOI system. Its very time consuming and the staff are already overstretched.
            While there is waste in the public sector, eventually cuts will mean certain public services like FOI can’t be properly maintained any more.

        1. rory

          “I don’t believe government can do its work completely in the open. The main benefactors of that would be lobby groups who have the money and resources to examine and exploit that openness.”

          Sure with the new legislation wouldn’t it only be these lobby groups who could afford to use FOI?

  4. FFS

    Hardly comments on this but loads of comments on a stupid Miley Cyrus post.

    Any wonder Governments slide stuff like through parliaments all over the world.

    People need to wise up and stop leaving to others to look out for them.

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