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Thursday, June 21, 2007

The power of government information

The case for access to government information is usually put in terms of transparency, accountability and the public right to know, and their importance in a democratic society.

In the "information age" however, there is another argument - that government holds much valuable information that could and should be used to promote economic, social and community advancement.

The UK Cabinet Office Minister, Hillary Armstrong, has released a report that outlines the potential power of information to create opportunities to empower individuals and communities to create solutions to problems by facilitating greater access to information.

The news release provides a summary of the background and the report ‘Power of Information’ by Tom Steinberg of mySociety and Ed Mayo of the National Consumer Council, provides detail of how government, in this new era, needs to start to "learn how to support citizens' own ways of making, finding, and re-using information online".

In Australia, the Australian Government Information Office, and the Minister Garry Nairn, have had plenty to say about e-government, and plans for better delivery and co-ordination of government services, but it's hard to find any reference in their materials to the broader societal issues, and benefits from the use and re-use of government information, raised in the UK report.

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