Freedom of Information and Secrecy in Governments

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Despite the fact that Britain now has, more or less, a Freedom of Information Law it is being flouted by all agencies of government, central and local.

It has come to light that, in order not to create a “paper trail” many agencies no longer minute (important) meetings and decisions are made and agreed via cell phone text messaging.

Why is it that our governments have to be accountable to “we the people”? Politicians and civil servants both seem to forget whose servants they are, in the same way as the police, here and in the US, in the latter case whose motto it is to “serve and protect”. They now serve and protect the establishment only.

The fact that they are the people's servants would appear to be something that the great majority of “elected” politicians and the mandarins in government service do not understand, however.

As far as they seem to be concerned the people have to be their servants and the electorate are but irrelevant and are to be treated as imbeciles.

The secrecy that is going on and it appear to have gotten worse since the advent of the Freedom of Information Act and now, so that they don't have to disclose their misdeeds and shenanigans, or to have shred things in a hurry or wipe a disc, things are not even recorded in any way or form.

This means that there will be little to no accountability as regards to many actions and this certainly does not for democracy make.

Such behavior is what we have come to expect from tin pot dictatorships and corrupt regimes in Third World countries but it does not befit the government of the supposed mother of modern western democracy that Great Britain always claims to be.

Such behavior make a mockery of the Freedom of Information legislation and of the law in general and especially the supposed “public scrutiny” that the government is supposed to have put itself under and is meant to be under.

After revelation such as these, with the original architect of the British Freedom of Information laws saying that he believes that he believes that it was a serious error to ever have allowed the public access to information, Britain no longer has got any right trying to lecture other nations on democracy and how they should run their country and affairs. The UK has lost the moral high ground here, if ever it did have it.

The powers that be in Britain, and elsewhere, are scared to death about the public being able to find out the truth about their shenanigans and thus they try hard to back pedal in this case from the FoI laws, trying their very best to restrict access regardless and to not even create any records that can be requested.

It is actually quite funny to behold how the wriggle every time a request under the Freedom of Information regulations comes in.

Now they simply, as said, and probably not just in Britain, will no longer minute meetings and such and make decisions by use of SMS in order not to create a real or virtual paper trail.

Any business that would dare to operate in such a way would immediately get a rap over the knuckles, and rightly so, but our governments seem to consider themselves above any such laws. It proves, yet again, that there is one law for them (and the rich) and one for the rest of us all.

© 2012