When the Irish government updated its Freedom of Information law, it promised something fit for the computer era. To say it did not deliver is rather an understatement.
The new bill (PDF) says: "the FOI body shall take reasonable steps to search for and extract the records to which the request relates, having due regard to the steps that would be considered reasonable if the records were held in paper format."
Get that? The standard for whether a FOI request is reasonable is whether it would be easy to get if the records were on paper and in a filing cabinet. If the records can be retrieved from a database with one click, but would take a hundred years with a filing cabinet, then the records can remain secret forever, because clicking once is deemed unreasonable.
As Simon McGarr puts it: "The Irish State wishes to uninvent computers.
The Explanatory Memo which the Government published to go with the Bill is more explicit about the government’s intent.
Bodies are required to take reasonable steps to search for and extract such data (analogous to the steps that would be considered reasonable if such a record was held in paper form)
When he was launching the Bill Minister Brendan Howlin had this to say:
“the current legislation was essentially designed to deal primarily with paper records and the legislative framework for FOI needs to be updated to reflect the transformation that has taken place in ICT since that time
Now we know he meant that special laws to allow the state to pretend that the ICT transformation never happened should be brought in. Civil servants are to be empowered to pretend that computers haven’t been invented and all their records are paper ones.
The Irish State wishes to uninvent computers with new FOI Bill
Timothy writes, “Diego Gómez is a Colombian conservation biologist. When he was a college student, he shared a single research paper online so that others could read and learn from it, just as he did. Diego was criminally prosecuted for copyright infringement, and faced up to 8 years in prison.”
Before the FCC stopped taking comments on its plans to destroy Net Neutrality (but after so many people rallied to tell it not to that its site crashed and the agency manufactured a fake denial of service attack to avoid admitting how much America hated its plans), the FCC’s comment form was flooded with 128,000 […]
Rudy Carcamo-Carranza was an undocumented restaurant worker in Michigan wanted for a DUI and a hit-and-run; the FBI and ICE used IMSI catchers — powerful, secretive cellphone tracking tools that the agencies bill as a kind of superweapon in the war on terror — to catch him and put him up for deportation.
Boasting an IPX6 waterproof rating, the Trakk Bullet Ultra Compact Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker resists dust and heavy rainfall. It’s currently available in the Boing Boing Store.The Trakk Bullet offers the same wireless convenience as other portable speakers, but few are built as tough as this one. Its utilitarian construction is designed to be a totally low-maintenance […]
The Ticwatch 2 Active Smartwatch is a simpler take on an active wearable that raised over $2m dollars on Kickstarter and is currently offered in the Boing Boing Store.Somewhere in between the single-day battery life and platform-specificity of the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices, there exists the Ticwatch. Instead of trying to shoehorn another […]
Loot Crate is a subscription service that delivers a box of curated pop culture goods to your doorstep. To sample their geeky wares, you can order a single mystery box exclusively from the Boing Boing Store.Each month Loot Crate sends you 6-7 unique items and apparel, including collectibles, books, and t-shirts. Pulling inspiration from all […]