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Monday, April 09, 2007

Is too much FOI ever enough?

We have noted previously that Australia's Ombudsmen are collectively working on what they perceive as the problem posed by querulants - those apparently never satisfied, who complain and complain, and then complain again about the way their complaint(s) were handled.

Freedom of Information is sometimes seen as a means of pursuing matters of this kind.

Its not just an issue of local interest here. Thanks to Martin Rosenbaum for drawing attention to the FOI applicant in the UK who made 90 applications to the BBC in a 6 month period, and has had a recent batch of applications declared vexatious by the Information Commissioner; and the couple in Texas who have made 2200 applications for documents to their local school board. The Board unsuccessfully sued the couple in an attempt to head off what it regarded as harassment, the court finding that the legislation imposed no limit on seeking access to government information. They probably aren't finished yet.

Any Australian experiences to top these?

The only Australian FOI legislation that includes a specific provision about this issue is the Queensland Act which gives the Information Commissioner power to declare an applicant vexatious.

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