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Freedom of Information Law Web Tools

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Happy Freedom of Information Law Day!!!

Today, Indonesia embraces the new era of transparency by the entry into force of the FoI Law. This post will discuss exiting web tools used to enforce FoI regime around the world. The internet can be used to make transparency system more transparent! Here is how:

1. United Kingdom -- Whatdotheyknow.com 

Whatdotheyknow is quite an ingenious web portal, designed to make transparency request transparent. This way, we will all know which government branches are lagging behind in processing their FoI. I've tried this system before and it works just perfectly. Have a look at my FoI request here.

2. United States -- Thisweknow.org

Thisweknow.org acts as a database provider of the data in the US Government. For example, I want to know which factory in Nevada releases mercury. And here's the search result.

3. United States -- Openmeetings.org

The US has several kinds of transparency laws. They have the Freedom of Information Act (as old as 1966) and they also have "Sunshine Laws". What are the differences? Well, the sunshine laws obligate public meetings for public officials. The law basically states that meetings for public services should not be held in secrecy, it should be held 'in the sunlight'. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, Justice Brandeis said, remember?

So, openmeetings.org provides the software to keep record of those meetings. Have a look.

In the next posts, I will give you and update of another tools. Stay tune!