Tuesday, March 14, 2006

U.S. Sunshine Week - Dialogue on Open Government and Secrecy

This week marks Sunshine Week in the United States, a week-long series of national and local events about government secrecy and the importance of strong freedom of information laws.

The week is sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and several other partners.

The beSpacific blog has a list of resources about the increasing restrictions on government information in the United States.

And if you think things are just perfect in Canada, many commentators and news media people believe this country may have too much of a culture of secrecy, something documented last year when as part of a Canadian Newspaper Association project on freedom of information, reporters from 45 member newspapers simultaneously visited municipal, provincial and federal government offices across Canada asking for access to information on topics such as class size, police suspensions and restaurant inspections.

As the Ottawa Citizen reported in a May 28, 2005 front page article entitled "A 'culture of secrecy' blocks public access to information: Government data released in just one-third of cases, audit finds": "Reporters found a confusing patchwork of policies across the country, ranging from poor disclosure in provinces such as Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, to a surprising 93-per-cent disclosure in Alberta. Overall, officials handed over records to just one in every three requests made in person. The rest remained locked in government filing cabinets as reporters were told they had to file timeconsuming -- and often expensive -- formal requests under provincial or federal access laws."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:53 pm


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