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
They told the public everything would be okay with the virus outbreak. Then they privately dumped stocks. Over the past 24 hours, news has spread that various U.S. lawmakers received advance private briefings about the severity of an oncoming coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic — then, they sold stocks before the public knew how bad it would get, […]
President Trump today announced that he is commuting the prison sentence of Rod Blagojevich, a former Illinois governer jailed for corruption, and pardoning Bernard Kerik, the former New York Police Commissioner jailed for tax fraud. Blagojevich attempted to sell Barack Obama’s senate seat; Kerik was found to have accepted a $250,000 bribe from a billionaire […]
“What does this guy worth $60 billion own, who wants to be president?”
The workers aren’t inside their physical business space anymore. So why should business technology still be under that roof either? In fact, more and more businesses have been making this migration for a while now, moving all their digital infrastructure to the world’s two largest cloud services platforms, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft’s Azure. […]
Gather round, young and old — and hear tales of bygone days. Back in olden times, citizens would mass at a house of coffee, wherein skilled java alchemists would concoct special blends and apply artisanal wizardry to make each steaming chalice an appointment for the taste buds. Granted, said wizards, once known as baristas, were […]
Whether it was Bach or Chopin, Ray Charles or Jerry Lee Lewis, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Alicia Keys or Norah Jones, there was someone whose mastery on the piano made you think, wow, I wish I knew how to do that. It’s a singular, almost timeless skill — and if you love music, there’s no […]