back to article Open data not a replacement for FOI - Shadow digital minister

The government is "deliberately conflating" the issue of open data with Freedom of Information to disguise draconian plans to roll back the legislation, the new shadow minister for digital Louise Haigh has told The Register. The Cabinet Office has championed the use of open data in the public sector, requiring all departments …

  1. Fraggle850

    Sir Humphrey wins again

    The only information that should be free is information about our online activities, and that should only be freely available to spooks and government snoopers. Why on earth should we be able to access information that enables us to hold the government to account? How could government function if we had any chance of finding out about it's dirty dealings and general inefficiency?


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sir Humphrey wins again

      How could government function if we had any chance of finding out about it's dirty dealings and general inefficiency?

      And then they wonder why people are increasingly disaffected by the mainstream political parties, and assorted alternative visions are becoming more popular - be that Corbyn, Farage, Sturgeon.

      With the Liberal Democrats annihilated, the Labour party unable to understand whether to follow or fight Corbyn, the last survivors of the traditional parliamentary plutocracy are Cameron's Conservative party. Despite managing a bare 12 seat majority against a disorganised Labour rabble still hamstrung by their prior fiscal ineptitude, Cameron continues with old and new policies that are both stupid and unpopular, that simply gild the lily of discontent, broadening the disconnect between the political classes and the electorate.

      I'm not sure what can be done to get through to 1%'ers like Cameron (or for that matter the remnants of New Labour), other than to actively vote for one of the upstart parties. A starter for this will be the EU referendum, where the British establishment, the Yanks, Brussels, and even the Chinese want us to remain part of the EU. By definition none of these centres of power (including Westminster) act for this country or in its best interests, so it'll be a "no" vote from me.

      As for others, I wouldn't presume to canvass, other than to observe that at the next general election, a vote for Labour, Liberal Democrat or Conservative is a vote for the Snoopers Charter, and more secretive government by the few for the few. I suspect that if enough people made alternative votes the outcome could be chaotic for some years, if that's what it takes to reform the complacent oppressive thievery of the mainstream political parties, then bring on the chaos.

      1. Vic

        Re: Sir Humphrey wins again

        if enough people made alternative votes the outcome could be chaotic for some years

        But they just won't.

        You've got people like my neighbour, who votes Labour with no knowledge of what they stand for because "they're to party of normal people like us". If only she were an outlier...

        And there are people of all persuasions who vote the way they do because it's the way they've always voted. Manifestos are rarely even read :-(


  2. dcluley

    Changing sides

    I remember that, prior to the 1997 election of the Labour Government, Jack Straw was a frequent and very vocal advocate of the need for a Freedom of Information Act. When he was made Home Secretary in that year I fully expected a quick bit of legislation to put the need for information from Government into effect. His immediate conversion to the side opposing FoI was one of the things amongst many that convinced me that politicians were not to be trusted.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Changing sides

      Jack Straw has been many things in his life (a Marxist student activist who later moved to the right of the labour party, a barrister who later complained there were too many lawyers, a researcher for campaigning TV programme World in Action who later complained of the Guardian's 'extraordinary naivety and arrogance' for publishing the Snowden revelations) but consistent isn't one of them - except, perhaps, in knowing where his best interests lay at any specific moment in time.

  3. Blank-Reg

    Cretins. A certain Chris Grayling's recent speech should give you enough information:

    “The Freedom of Information Act is something this government is committed to but we want to make sure it works well and fairly. It cannot be abused. It cannot be misused. It is on occasions misused by those who use it effectively as a research tool to generate stories for the media. That isn’t acceptable.”

    Err, that's the whole point of the act you incompetent fool - to help keep the government to account. Me thinks that someone wants to keep their expenses secret. Roll on the next leak of MP's troughing. It shouldn't be too long now until the next cash for x sting or leaked info on MP's claiming £15 for their poppy expenses.

  4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "An Independent Commission on Freedom of Information is currently gathering information for a 10-year review of the Act. The introduction of charges have already been flouted as a way of making the act less expensive.

    All the panel of the Independent Commission are on record as being hostile to the Act, including former Labour Cabinet Office minister Jack Straw."

    See how it's done, children?

    "In his biography Blair wrote of Freedom of Information. "Three harmless words. I look at those words as I write them, and feel like shaking my head till it drops off my shoulders. You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop."" I do actually like the last three sentences in that paragraph.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would have thought...

    That Blair's biggest regret was being responsible for the death of several thousand people, but hey ho, maybe he has other priorities.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The trouble with open data...

    There's so much of it and you end up with particular groups getting in there first and becoming the almost-official analysers of it, noting comments from some of them about not letting people from outside their little clubs to have a say in how it is handled, or published or more importantly, spun.

    Often when these groups release semi-processed data there is no hint as to what any particular column might mean when they know full well that they within that group are probably the only ones who know what it is because their other job is associated with government, ex or otherwise.

    I like FoI because you can ask a question and for the most part someone will answer, as long as you make sure your question is clear. Vast masses of data are rarely useful to the general public and I think the release of it all was made in the full understanding of that point.

    TLDR: Never believe the stats you read on the internet. Or in the papers. Or see on the news.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The trouble with open data...

      "TLDR: Never believe the stats you read on the internet. Or in the papers. Or see on the news."

      Absolutely agree, 78% of all statistics are made up...

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: The trouble with open data...

        Yes, but what is the standard deviation? (Of the data, not the MP.)

  7. Anonymous Coward

    'You idiot"

    He was right about one thing.

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