Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dutch Official Presses for Information Access Curbs: 'We was Wobbed'

Flag of the Republic of the Seven United Nethe...Image via WikipediaPiet Hein Donner, The Netherlands' Home Affairs Minister, criticizing runaway costs and journalists' abuse, wants to restrict his country's Freedom of Information laws [Wet Openbaarheid Bestuur], known as "WOB."

Donner blamed journalists for engaging in fishing expeditions. WOB allows Dutch citizens to view government documents. Donner wants to empower officials to reject WOB requests that are "improper," and to narrow the scope of information searches  through officials consulting with individuals seeking the government documents, according to a story on the Website

Article 111 of the Constitution of The Netherlands states that: "in the exercise of their duties, government bodies shall observe the principles of transparency in accordance with the rules to be prescribed by Act of Parliament."  WOB, enacted in 1991, allows an individual in writing or orally to request information involving an administrative matter if the data is contained in documents possessed by public authorities or companies carrying out work for a public authority. The authority has a two-week window in which to respond to a request.

It's unfortunate, given the people of The Netherlands' longstanding collective support for transparency in government and access to information to see Donner advocating "going Dutch" as it were.

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