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The Day in FoIA: US government “outsources transparency”, Welsh assembly at the Supreme Court and Danish opposition to new FOIA

Transparency Outsourced as U.S. Hires Vendors for Disclosure Aid

The next time you submit a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. government, it may end up in the hands of a company you’ve never heard of.

At least 25 federal agencies are outsourcing parts of the FOIA process. The contractors, sometimes using workers with security clearances, are building FOIA software, corresponding with requesters, redacting documents and recommending what information should be withheld.

Since fiscal 2009, the year President Barack Obama took office, spending on FOIA-related contracts has jumped about 40 percent, leaving transparency advocates wondering who’s making the decisions on whether records should be kept secret. Read more.

Danielle Ivory | Bloomberg | 9th October 2012

Legality of first Welsh bill challenged at Supreme Court

The legality of the first bill passed by the Welsh assembly under new law-making powers is being challenged at the Supreme Court.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve claims the Local Government Byelaws Bill goes beyond devolved powers and wants the UK’s highest court to overturn them.

The bill allows Welsh councils to make byelaws without ministers confirming them.

Letters released under the Freedom of Information Act show the UK government repeatedly warned the Welsh government over a period of months that it did not believe that some parts of the proposed bill were lawful.  Read more.

Denmark: Opposition builds to new freedom of information law       

Three parties raise concern that the new freedom of information law would limit access to government documents that can reveal corruption and abuse of power.

Opposition is building to the new information access law, offentlighedslov, that was agreed upon this week between the government and opposition parties Konservative and Venstre.

The new law will place limitations on what government documentation the press and general public are entitled to access through freedom of information requests.

Despite the consensus between the five parties that negotiated the changes, the three remaining parties – Liberal Alliance (LA), Dansk Folkeparti (DF) and Enhedslisten (EL) – are demanding that the new law be subject to a proper debate before it is presented in parliament in February. Read more.

Peter Stanners | The Copenhagen Post | 9th October 2012

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