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Access to information consultation (19 2 2019)

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Access to Information consultation:
What should we pay attention to?
2019.02.19 Open Data HK Sharing @ HKU

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Access to information consultation (19 2 2019)

  1. 1. Access to Information consultation: What should we pay attention to? Charles Mok Legislative Councillor (IT) 2019-2-19 @ Open Data HK sharing
  2. 2. What’s the big deal with Access to Info? The citizens’ Right to Know vs bureaucratic culture in departments We need a LAW with consequences for non-compliance: Ombudsman’s enforcement notes often are neglected Both Archives Law and Access to Information Law are CRUCIAL Issues with current Code on Access to Information: 2 Ombudsman investigation reports call for a regime with statutory backing Long processing time, require extensive effort Govt’s tendency to use the Code to REJECT: interpretation of the grounds for denying
  3. 3. AAG’s principles for Freedom of Info Law 1. ATI is a right to be exercised on a fair and equal basis. It must not be compromised for costs. 2. Public entities covered by the ATI Law have a legal obligation to promote open government. 3. Principle of maximum disclosure should be presumed unless rebutted by any legitimate reason under the law 4. Access exceptions should be clearly and narrowly defined. Public interests must always be considered, and no information should be withheld forever.
  4. 4. AAG’s principles for Freedom of Info Law 5. Information made open to the public should not be withheld again. Partial disclosure should be allowed. 6. Clear and simple procedures should be established to process requests for information rapidly and fairly. 7. An independent authority must be established to oversee the operation of ATI law and review refusals 8. ATI law should not restrict access provided by other legal or policy instruments 9. Individuals who disclose information in good faith and in the public interest, must be protected by law
  5. 5. LRC recommendations: devil in the details? 1. Which 'public bodies' should be covered? insufficient coverage - infrastructure projects by public money? PPP ventures? 2. Exemptions will expand to 21: 12 of which won’t require public interest test (e.g. #4 Information provided in confidence) 3. Continue to rely on the Ombudsman, why not an independent “Information Commissioner” or a Tribunal? 4. Duration of exemptions at 30 years: why not 20 years as in other jurisdictions?
  6. 6. LRC recommendations: devil in the details? 5. Compliance/Exemption conclusive certificate also apply to archival records B/Ds can issue certificate on the grounds of “Management and operation of the public service” 6. Emphasise the operating cost more than benefits to society? How about response time requirement? 7. Spirit of the regime: Maximum disclosure or more hurdles for those seeking information?
  7. 7. 5 March 2019 www.hkreform.gov.hk/en/publications/ accesstoinfo.htm Deadline of consultation