German Government Tries To Neuter FOI Requests By Refusing To Allow Responses To Be Published

from the cease-and-desist dept

Freedom of information laws are one of the most powerful tools for holding governments to account. No wonder that every now and then, attempts are made to limit their effectiveness. Here's an example from Germany, where the freedom of information (FOI) portal FragDenStaat.de asked for and received a five-page study written by government staff analyzing a ruling by the German constitutional court:

When the study in question was received from the Ministry of the Interior through an FOI request on FragDenStaat.de, the ministry prohibited publication of the document by claiming copyright. FragDenStaat.de has decided to publish the document anyway to take a stand against this blatant misuse of copyright. The government sent a cease and desist letter shortly after. The Open Knowledge Foundation Germany as the legal entity behind FragDenStaat.de is refusing to comply with the cease and desist order, and is looking forward to a court decision that will strengthen freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of information rights in Germany.
Of course, if it were not possible to publish information received through FOI requests, the latter would become almost useless, as the German government doubtless well knows. So it's great to see the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany fighting this attempt to undermine the entire FOI system there (donations gratefully received.) It's also interesting to note how, once again, copyright is being deployed not as a means for promoting creativity, but as a weapon against openness and transparency.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Feb 12th, 2014 @ 1:14am

    They should learn from the US. Just release papers covered in black ink or delay the answer for years till it's just forgotten (or the person who asked possibly dies).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2014 @ 4:31am

    Spam retaliation

    If they won't allow publication simply create an auto-request form of some kind. Perhaps they'll give up once they start receiving five thousand requests for the same request daily.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2014 @ 7:00am

    meh, that will be an expensive and useless dud. the courts are corrupt as shit and the highest courts populated with muppets from the political parties. They won't decide against the government anymore these spineless dipshits. They used to, long ago, but not anymore.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), Feb 12th, 2014 @ 10:12am

    Re:

    Speaking of learning from the US, in the US, governments are expressly forbidden from claiming copyright on anything, as it was produced using tax funds and therefore the rightful owner is the public.

    Does Germany not have a similar law?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 12:53am

    Re:

    "They won't decide against the government anymore these spineless dipshits. They used to, long ago, but not anymore."

    Nor do I want them to. The Government is the people. Individuals need to be held accountable.

    If you fine my Government, it costs me money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re:

    "If you fine my Government, it costs me money."

    Indeed, and I think that's a good thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 1:38am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I guess, if you don't believe in responsibility.

    "I was just following orders."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This