The Conservatives are planning to restrict Freedom of Information requests. Despite an existing framework for charging costlier requests, a report by Newsnight reveals the Conservatives are considering introducing a “range of tarrifs” for access to documents by journalists, campaigners and members of the public.

After Michael Gove was caught using a secret email account with the pseudonym “Mrs Blurt” to discuss Whitehall business, civil servants have proposed that no personal email accounts should to be used for official matters — unless an official is copied in. Ministers are now looking to respond by charging.

In keeping with David Cameron’s previous claims that “We want to be the most open and transparent government in the world.”, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, whose brief encompasses FOI, gushed about data rights in October 2010:

“Tony Blair bizarrely revealed that his biggest regret in office was introducing the Freedom of Information Act. If I ever sit down to write my own memoirs, freeing up government information will not number amongst my regrets. In fact, I very much hope that it will be one of my very proudest achievements.”

With personal email accounts off limits, perhaps ministers could stockpile correspondence in their garages.

  1. How can introducing different tariffs be considered ‘restricting FOI requests’.

    Yes, some might be more expensive, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t get some information that was openly available before.

  2. As someone working in Local Government who has to respond to daily FOI requests from companies blatantly touting for business I have to say I love the idea.

    As a Lefty Liberal with a belief in Open Rights wherever possible and government transparency I am appalled by the whole notion.

    Bloody shades of grey!

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