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Friday, January 04, 2008

(Relatively) positive start for US FOI in 2008

Summer holiday blog

President Bush this week signed the OPEN Government Act, the first significant freedom of information reforms in the US for years. While the reforms have been welcomed by the media and others, many (including me) got it wrong in suggesting that the final version contained a provision that required disclosure unless harm would result. Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News has put us all (even the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal) right by pointing out that this provision was dropped in final negotiations between the Senate and House of Representatives.

The stand out feature of FOI at the federal level in the US that we should seek to emulate is the wide and generous approach taken to rebates on fees and charges for journalists and anyone else who seeks access to documents about the conduct of government functions. The OPEN Government Act extends the waiver to independent journalists (including bloggers).

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