Proposed reforms to freedom of information regulation – have your say this week

Time and tide wait for no-one with an interest in information law; as the legislative reform of data protection now beds down, a reminder that the Information Commissioner's Office’s consultation “Openness by design”, which sets out the ICO’s strategic priorities for the next three years in relation to its duties under what could be regarded as the GDPR/ Data Protection Act’s siblings - Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 - closes this Friday (8 March 2019).

The draft strategy confirms the ICO’s ambition “…to be more proactive and increase the impact of our regulation of access to information rights law” and to “…allow people to have more trust and confidence on the openness and accountability of public authorities and have more opportunities to participate in civic life” by focussing on the following five priorities:

  • Work in partnership to improve standards of openness, transparency and participation among public authorities in a digital age.
  • Provide excellent customer service to members of the public and public authorities and lead by example in fulfilling our statutory functions.
  • Raise awareness of access to information rights and make it even easier for the public to exercise their rights.
  • Promote the reform of access to information legislation so it remains fit for purpose.
  • Develop and sustain our international collaboration.”

A fuller range of proposed actions are set out under each of the five priorities, including steps such as (1) continuing to build and promote the case for change to the scope of FOIA and EIR, building on the report submitted to Parliament in January 2019 recommending urgent change in relation to outsourced public services and other categories of public service provision not currently within the scope of the current legislation; and (2) undertaking targeted information rights campaigns to raise public awareness of their rights under the FOIA/EIR

Responses are invited on the range of objectives set out in the document; a survey link is included at page 14 of the consultation document.

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