It was with some amusement in July that Scrapbook reported a pronouncement from the Information Commissioner that Freedom of Information requests can be submitted by Twitter. The edict means that every public authority using the service is now obligated to monitor their accounts for statutory requests under the 2000 Act.
Not seeming the most pragmatic interpretation of the law, we decided to road test this by submitting a request to the 10 Downing Street Twitter account:
It should come as no surprise that we did not receive a reply within the required 20 days. So we followed the rules and requested an internal review. This was also met with silence and the matter is now with the ICO in the form of a complaint.
Generating countless stories, we love FOI here at Scrapbook. But onerous requirements on public authorities (which add nothing to real information rights) will only bolster attempts to water-down legislation — as MPs attempted when they voted to exempt their expenses from scrutiny in 2007.
Apparent ignorance as to such practicalities is surprising, however, given the extensive thought the ICO has given to social media.
The Commission’s official policy document on how to use Twitter runs to a mere eighteen pages.