Freedom of Information
Freedom of information legislation can assist in the better operation of a democratic system by allowing the public to know the real facts behind government decision making and therefore to vote in an informed way.
Another important reason for having freedom of information legislation is to allow people to have access to, and control of information that is collected about them. Governments are increasingly collecting information about people and making decisions based on that information. Information collected by Government is a resource owned by the people and managed on their behalf by Government. People should be able to obtain access to this resource and to participate in government policy development and decision making. Freedom of information and privacy legislation aims to ensure that the information collected about people by government agencies is accurate and not misused.
After a freedom of information (FOI) request is made, government agencies must decide whether to give access to documents, and whether that access should be partial or full access. An agency does not have to give access to exempted material or where the request will unreasonably divert the agency's resources. To maximise the chances of obtaining access on the first request, some strategies include:
The onus is on the agency to supply a proper reason for an exemption, and where access is refused the applicant can request a precise explanation for the refusal.