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.