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[PASSED] Freedom of Information Act

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Auralia
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[PASSED] Freedom of Information Act

Postby Auralia » Tue Apr 10, 2012 6:35 pm

Freedom of Information Act
Category: Furtherance of Democracy | Strength: Significant

Emphasizing the importance of openness, transparency and accountability in government,

Believing that every citizen should have access to the official documents and records of their government, within reason,

The General Assembly,

  1. Mandates that all World Assembly (WA) member nations release any official government documents or records requested by their citizens at minimal or no charge;
  2. Clarifies that WA member nations may fulfill these obligations either on a per-request basis or through the general availability of one or more publications containing this information, or some combination of the two, so long as the information remains easily and readily accessible;
  3. Permits WA member nations and the WA itself to place restrictions on the release of official government records based on reasonable, legitimate and non-arbitrary criteria, such as the protection of privacy or national security interests;
  4. Requests that WA member nations redact information from documents or records restricted under the above clause rather than prevent their distribution to the public;
  5. Requires WA member nations to implement a fair judicial appeals process where their citizens may challenge these restrictions.

Co-authored by: Quadrimmina
Last edited by Flibbleites on Tue May 08, 2012 9:01 am, edited 21 times in total.

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Moronist Decisions
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Postby Moronist Decisions » Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:21 pm

While laudable, do "reasonable restrictions" include "not releasing" papers?

Also, some working papers are not suited to public release. For example, we might have some policy papers that outline particular options, such as brainstorming, that might be unsettling to the population as a whole, but are researched as part of an exploration of a number of different options. Furthermore, does this include medical records at a government hospital?

Since government records include records on individuals, I also find it worrisome that it may include, for example, governmental employees' personal records.
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Sionis Prioratus
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Postby Sionis Prioratus » Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:15 pm

Auralia wrote:AFFIRMING the right of every person to access the official records of their government, within reason,


Spies are going to have a field day with this!

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Grays Harbor
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Postby Grays Harbor » Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:43 pm

MANDATES that all WA member nations must release, to a citizen of that nation, any requested official government records, at minimal or no charge;

So who is expected to pay for this? The great bottomless well of government funds, i.e. taxpayers? Why shouldn't the person requesting the information pay the costs of reproduction, handling, etc? You buy a book, you pay for it. Here the government is expected to just hand things over, sometimes numbering in the thousands of pages worth, and which requires considerable manhours, resources and money to research, locate, assemble and ship, and to do all for free. This seems quite unreasonable and arbitary.
-----------
Sionis Prioratus wrote:
Auralia wrote:AFFIRMING the right of every person to access the official records of their government, within reason,


Spies are going to have a field day with this!

Yours in profound worry,

Gotta agree with SP on this one.
Last edited by Grays Harbor on Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Auralia
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Postby Auralia » Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:55 am

Sionis Prioratus wrote:
Auralia wrote:AFFIRMING the right of every person to access the official records of their government, within reason,


Spies are going to have a field day with this!

Yours in profound worry,


Perhaps "citizen" would be more appropriate.

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Auralia
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Postby Auralia » Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:56 am

Moronist Decisions wrote:While laudable, do "reasonable restrictions" include "not releasing" papers?

Also, some working papers are not suited to public release. For example, we might have some policy papers that outline particular options, such as brainstorming, that might be unsettling to the population as a whole, but are researched as part of an exploration of a number of different options. Furthermore, does this include medical records at a government hospital?

Since government records include records on individuals, I also find it worrisome that it may include, for example, governmental employees' personal records.


Yes. I would consider all of these reasonable restrictions. I don't want to micromanage, which is why I left that clause as vague as it is.

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Auralia
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Postby Auralia » Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:58 am

Grays Harbor wrote:
MANDATES that all WA member nations must release, to a citizen of that nation, any requested official government records, at minimal or no charge;

So who is expected to pay for this? The great bottomless well of government funds, i.e. taxpayers? Why shouldn't the person requesting the information pay the costs of reproduction, handling, etc? You buy a book, you pay for it. Here the government is expected to just hand things over, sometimes numbering in the thousands of pages worth, and which requires considerable manhours, resources and money to research, locate, assemble and ship, and to do all for free. This seems quite unreasonable and arbitary.


A "minimal" charge could include the costs of reproduction and handling.

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Linux and the X
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Postby Linux and the X » Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:25 am

So governments should release personal information of other people to anyone who asks? Depending on how much a government does, this can include educational, health, and travel records, home addresses, or in totalitarian countries even video recordings of one's home life.
Last edited by Linux and the X on Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Auralia
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Postby Auralia » Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:35 am

Linux and the X wrote:So governments should release personal information of other people to anyone who asks? Depending on how much a government does, this can include educational, health, and travel records, home addresses, or in totalitarian countries even video recordings of one's home life.


The right to privacy would constitute a reasonable exception. I've changed the clause to make this clearer.

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Ainocra
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Postby Ainocra » Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:25 am

The Star Empire of Ainocra cannot support to this draft for security and privacy reasons.
Simply put we will not release sensitive material, or private information, or for that matter any information we feel could be detrimental to the public at large to our citizens. We will release nothing at all to non citizens.

We are a military society, and every citizen has a security clearance level befitting their rank and duties. This could be seen as some conservatives as an attempt to undermine our very way of life.

Therefore we are opposed.
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Auralia
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Postby Auralia » Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:27 pm

I want to make it clear that the reason for making the "reasonable restrictions" clause so vague is to allow nations a wide degree of freedom in how they implement this act. Different nations have varying standards for privacy rights and national security interests, so rather than micromanage, I thought I would leave it relatively open.

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Auralia
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Postby Auralia » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:01 pm

I'm going to submit this now without a campaign to get a feel for how people think about it.

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Warrior Thorin
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Postby Warrior Thorin » Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:46 pm

My government knows best what the people need to know. I don't see why the WA should enforce this act upon all of us. I will not allow spies to walk into my government offices to see war plans, security plans, and other potentially damaging information. I am against this proposed legislation.
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Auralia
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Postby Auralia » Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:15 pm

Warrior Thorin wrote:My government knows best what the people need to know. I don't see why the WA should enforce this act upon all of us. I will not allow spies to walk into my government offices to see war plans, security plans, and other potentially damaging information. I am against this proposed legislation.


Again, a nation acting in good faith would consider not releasing information related to vital national security interests a "reasonable restriction."

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Postby Hirota » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:12 am

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Merfurian
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Postby Merfurian » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:09 pm

This may seem like I'm being a simpleton, but I have a slight quibble with the following line:

the World Assembly itself may place reasonable restrictions on freedom of information


Now, to me, that sounds scarily like this clause is setting the road for a possible amendment. Could you explain this clause and thus allay my fears?

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Auralia
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Postby Auralia » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:07 pm

Merfurian wrote:This may seem like I'm being a simpleton, but I have a slight quibble with the following line:

the World Assembly itself may place reasonable restrictions on freedom of information


Now, to me, that sounds scarily like this clause is setting the road for a possible amendment. Could you explain this clause and thus allay my fears?

Klause Uliyan
etc


The purpose of the clause is to allow the WA to legislate on issues like privacy rights that may ultimately limit what governments are permitted to release to the public. Restrictions have to be reasonable, though; they can't unduly limit freedom of information.

The Secretariat has decided that such clauses are acceptable, as in the case of the Convention on Execution, Ethics in International Trade, (maybe) National Economic Freedoms, etc.
Last edited by Auralia on Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Auralia
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Postby Auralia » Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:44 am

Following my dry run, a mod has informed me that the Significant or Strong category is more appropriate for this proposal.

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Postby Khornera » Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:12 am

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Chinese Regions
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Postby Chinese Regions » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:07 am

I would remove the "without charge part"
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Postby Paper Flowers » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:15 am

Chinese Regions wrote:I would remove the "without charge part"


There is no "without charge" part, the nearest is this:

MANDATES that all WA member nations release, to a citizen of that nation, any requested official government records, at minimal or no charge;


The highlighted bit means that nations could still place some charges to cover the cost of retreiving the information, photocopying / whatever and passing it on to the requester.

Deputy Ambassador Saunders
Last edited by Paper Flowers on Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Merfurian » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:23 am

I would like to add to Ambassador Saunders' point. It should be borne in mind that (OOC: in RL) many Freedom of Information laws state that there is a maximum charge of approx £600 (equivalent of $954).

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Chinese Regions
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Postby Chinese Regions » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:40 am

Paper Flowers wrote:
Chinese Regions wrote:I would remove the "without charge part"


There is no "without charge" part, the nearest is this:

MANDATES that all WA member nations release, to a citizen of that nation, any requested official government records, at minimal or no charge;


The highlighted bit means that nations could still place some charges to cover the cost of retreiving the information, photocopying / whatever and passing it on to the requester.

Deputy Ambassador Saunders

We should be able to place any price we like within reason.
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Auralia
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Postby Auralia » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:51 pm

Merfurian wrote:I would like to add to Ambassador Saunders' point. It should be borne in mind that (OOC: in RL) many Freedom of Information laws state that there is a maximum charge of approx £600 (equivalent of $954).

Dr Klause Uliyan

OOC: That entire post should be read as OOC.


Unfortunately, we don't have an international currency, so we can't create a standard like that.
Last edited by Auralia on Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Auralia
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Postby Auralia » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:55 pm

Chinese Regions wrote:
Paper Flowers wrote:
There is no "without charge" part, the nearest is this:



The highlighted bit means that nations could still place some charges to cover the cost of retreiving the information, photocopying / whatever and passing it on to the requester.

Deputy Ambassador Saunders

We should be able to place any price we like within reason.


Why would you arbitrarily charge for government information? To limit it to the rich? No, I like the way the clause is currently worded, which forces governments to make it as low as possible.

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