web analytics

Comparing freedom of information

Written By: - Date published: 2:59 pm, March 30th, 2009 - 2 comments
Categories: International - Tags: , , , , ,

Idiot/Savant has a great post in an aussie blog Larvatus Prodeo on the legal and operational differences between our Official Information Act 1982 compared to the Australian Freedom Of Information Act.

Journalists, academics, lobby groups, opposition politicians and ordinary troublemakers like me are routinely given sensitive documents they would never be allowed to see in Australia. This allows us not only to build a better picture of what our government is doing – it also allows us to hold it to account.

The differences are striking especially in the comments on the post about the attitudes to releasing information to the public in Australia. The OIA has been embraced by virtually every side of the political system here, and has probably contributed greatly to the quality of government here.

The second reason is that the government has generally got with the program and accepted the Act in the spirit is was intended. A public service that was suspicious and defensive in 1982 has transformed itself into one that is open and accessible. From being a threat, the possibility of advice being subject to an OIA request is now seen as a discipline by public servants: it makes them perform better.

And…

Ministers have been less accepting, but over the years the OIA has become embedded, and they understand they can’t get away with hiding things. Its telling that while the Act includes a Cabinet veto on release, it hasn’t been used for over twenty years; the government accepts that it is bound by the Act and the decisions of the Ombudsmen – even unto releasing highly sensitive costings of an election policy mere days before an election.

That difference in governance transparency explains to me the otherwise ridiculous assumptions in the story “Leaked Australian blacklist reveals banned sites” reported by the The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Australian communications regulator’s top-secret blacklist of banned websites has been leaked on to the web and paints a harrowing picture of Australia’s forthcoming internet censorship regime.

I helped campaign against a similar bill here in the 90’s where some MP’s thought that requiring net-nanny type programs on all computers would protect children.  As a comment in the story reports

University of Sydney associate professor Bjorn Landfeldt said the leaked list “constitutes a condensed encyclopedia of depravity and potentially very dangerous material”.

He said the leaked list would become “the concerned parent’s worst nightmare” as curious children would inevitably seek it out.

But about half of the sites on the list are not related to child porn and include a slew of online poker sites, YouTube links, regular gay and straight porn sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions such as satanic sites, fetish sites, Christian sites, the website of a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist.

“It seems to me as if just about anything can potentially get on the list,” Landfelt said.

Kids would also locate the information about how to bypass the site locks and circumvent the protection. The information would become freely available in the schoolyard. Most parents are too computer illiterate to do anything about it and would be better off being good parents and explaining the choices to the curious kids.

The potential for abuse of the system would be rather high for a censorious government. For instance

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, dug up the blacklist after ACMA added several Wikileaks pages to the list following the site’s publication of the Danish blacklist.

He said secret censorship systems were “invariably corrupted”, pointing to the Thailand censorship list, which was originally billed as a mechanism to prevent child pornography but contained more than 1200 sites classified as criticizing the royal family.

In NZ information would probably be accessible by a OIA or at least an outline of the policy for inclusion would be. In aussie, they’d just hide it as being against the public interest, and then try to legislate against it being released.

ACMA said Australians caught distributing the list or accessing child pornography sites on the list could face criminal charges and up to 10 years in prison.

Yeah right. The list will be leaked by geeks as soon as it gets dispersed to the ISP’s because it will attempt to block unrelated sites.

Hattip: No Right Turn

2 comments on “Comparing freedom of information”

  1. BLiP 1

    More great work from the Idiot Savant, thanks. That quote from Wikipleaks: “The first rule of censorship is that you cannot talk about censorship,” is one we should all bear in mind.

    I wonder what sites National would like to see banned.

  2. Ferdinand 2

    Speaking of copying post whole sale. I see Bryce Edwards has been writing for Kiwiblog:

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2009/03/norman_attacks_academic.html

    Not at all like David’s style. Very much like Bryce’s and yet it has David’s name on it. If Bryce Edwards is a leftist why is he pretending to be David Farrar?

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Plumber shortfall highlights gaps in trades training
    A shortage of skilled plumbers highlights major gaps in the Government’s trades training which is having serious implications for our construction industry, Labour’s Skills and Training spokesperson Jenny Salesa says. “Information obtained under the Official Information Act shows an undersupply… ...
    22 hours ago
  • Plumber shortfall highlights gaps in trades training
    A shortage of skilled plumbers highlights major gaps in the Government’s trades training which is having serious implications for our construction industry, Labour’s Skills and Training spokesperson Jenny Salesa says. “Information obtained under the Official Information Act shows an undersupply… ...
    22 hours ago
  • Rates rebate on the cards for retirement village residents
    People living retirement villages could be entitled to a rates rebate after a Labour Member’s Bill was today pulled from the ballot, Labour’s Senior Citizens spokesperson Ruth Dyson says. “Most residents in retirement villages cannot currently claim a rebate because… ...
    1 day ago
  • Rates rebate on the cards for retirement village residents
    People living retirement villages could be entitled to a rates rebate after a Labour Member’s Bill was today pulled from the ballot, Labour’s Senior Citizens spokesperson Ruth Dyson says. “Most residents in retirement villages cannot currently claim a rebate because… ...
    1 day ago
  • Government’s weak trusts inquiry lambasted
    The weak and absurd scope of the Government’s inquiry into foreign trusts has been lambasted by Transparency International, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “In a scathing statement released today, the anti-corruption watchdog warns that the John Sherwan-led inquiry into foreign… ...
    1 day ago
  • Government’s weak trusts inquiry lambasted
    The weak and absurd scope of the Government’s inquiry into foreign trusts has been lambasted by Transparency International, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “In a scathing statement released today, the anti-corruption watchdog warns that the John Sherwan-led inquiry into foreign… ...
    1 day ago
  • Healthy Homes Bill passes first reading
    Some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable children and families are on their way towards safer living conditions with the passing of the first reading of the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill in Parliament last night, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little… ...
    1 day ago
  • Healthy Homes Bill passes first reading
    Some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable children and families are on their way towards safer living conditions with the passing of the first reading of the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill in Parliament last night, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little… ...
    1 day ago
  • Wellington Town Belt Bill becomes law
    The Wellington Town Belt will grow by 120 hectares after the passing today of the Wellington Town Belt Bill, Labour MP for Wellington Central Grant Robertson says. “The Town Belt is loved by Wellingtonians as a green and open space… ...
    2 days ago
  • Wellington Town Belt Bill becomes law
    The Wellington Town Belt will grow by 120 hectares after the passing today of the Wellington Town Belt Bill, Labour MP for Wellington Central Grant Robertson says. “The Town Belt is loved by Wellingtonians as a green and open space… ...
    2 days ago
  • 26 weeks paid parental leave the best Mother’s Day present
    If National truly values motherhood, they would drop their threat to scupper 26 weeks paid parental leave, says Labour MP Sue Moroney. “As New Zealand prepares to celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, John Key should remove his threat to… ...
    2 days ago
  • 26 weeks paid parental leave the best Mother’s Day present
    If National truly values motherhood, they would drop their threat to scupper 26 weeks paid parental leave, says Labour MP Sue Moroney. “As New Zealand prepares to celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, John Key should remove his threat to… ...
    2 days ago
  • Peering through the Huntly coal smokescreen
    Energy Minister Simon Bridges revealed in Parliament this week he has no idea what majority state-owned power companies are up to, when he wrongly claimed that Genesis Energy would not burn coal at Huntly unless there was a shortage of… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 days ago
  • Peering through the Huntly coal smokescreen
    Energy Minister Simon Bridges revealed in Parliament this week he has no idea what majority state-owned power companies are up to, when he wrongly claimed that Genesis Energy would not burn coal at Huntly unless there was a shortage of… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 days ago
  • Burger King dumps caged eggs!
    I’m not a fan of fast food companies, but a few days ago I was thrilled to see fast food multinational Burger King announcing that they are going to dump caged eggs in New Zealand. They join other food companies,… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    2 days ago
  • Burger King dumps caged eggs!
    I’m not a fan of fast food companies, but a few days ago I was thrilled to see fast food multinational Burger King announcing that they are going to dump caged eggs in New Zealand. They join other food companies,… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    2 days ago
  • Smoke and Mirrors on Pharmac funding
    Today’s announcement by John Key and Jonathan Coleman on Pharmac funding is a classic piece of financial jiggery-pokery, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “While I welcome any boost to the Pharmac budget this does not go far enough. ...
    2 days ago
  • Firearms Inquiry calling for submissions.
    Parliament’s Law and Order select committee (of which I am a member) has today called for public submissions to its firearms inquiry. This conversation should have been live since last year, when the Police Association started talking about their concerns… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    2 days ago
  • Firearms Inquiry calling for submissions.
    Parliament’s Law and Order select committee (of which I am a member) has today called for public submissions to its firearms inquiry. This conversation should have been live since last year, when the Police Association started talking about their concerns… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    2 days ago
  • National playing politics with children’s lives
    John Key’s Government is playing political games with the lives of children by refusing to support a bill which will ensure every home in the country is warm and dry, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “National says that… ...
    2 days ago
  • Unemployment rise demands Budget response
    The rise in unemployment shows the Budget must contain concrete plans for job growth that deliver for all New Zealanders, not just the few at the top, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “After eight years under National it is… ...
    2 days ago
  • School funding falls by $150 per student
    Parents are having to fork out even more for their kids’ education after the Government cut school funding per student by $150 in the past year, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “According to the Education Ministry, its total per… ...
    2 days ago
  • School funding falls by $150 per student
    Parents are having to fork out even more for their kids’ education after the Government cut school funding per student by $150 in the past year, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “According to the Education Ministry, its total per… ...
    2 days ago
  • Government must clamp down on dodgy PTEs
    The Government must ensure all international students coming to New Zealand are legitimate after a survey of those approved in Mumbai found only 9 per cent had genuine intentions and met English language requirements, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government must clamp down on dodgy PTEs
    The Government must ensure all international students coming to New Zealand are legitimate after a survey of those approved in Mumbai found only 9 per cent had genuine intentions and met English language requirements, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.… ...
    3 days ago
  • Chance to crack down on foreign speculators
    If John Key is serious about stopping foreign speculators driving house prices out of the reach of Kiwi families, he will support Labour’s Member’s Bill to ban offshore investors from buying existing homes, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “My… ...
    3 days ago
  • IRD had foreign trusts review on action plan
    The IRD was so ready to review foreign trusts it had the review on its action plan in November 2014, just before the Revenue Minister met with John Key’s lawyer, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “The IRD… ...
    3 days ago
  • IRD had foreign trusts review on action plan
    The IRD was so ready to review foreign trusts it had the review on its action plan in November 2014, just before the Revenue Minister met with John Key’s lawyer, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “The IRD… ...
    3 days ago
  • Child Youth and Family Review and Māori
    I wrote this blogpost sitting in Parliament listening to the Attorney General’s first reading speech on the Tauranga Moana Iwi Collective Redress and Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Ranganui Claims Settlement Bill. He has acknowledged the impact of colonisation that made… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    3 days ago
  • Rebuilding Christchurch – a lost opportunity?
    In rebuilding Christchurch, the city has a rare chance to build in a sustainable, creative and people-centred way. We can create a city that is so much more than a simple re-construction of buildings and transport links. Christchurch could be… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    4 days ago
  • Rebuilding Christchurch – a lost opportunity?
    In rebuilding Christchurch, the city has a rare chance to build in a sustainable, creative and people-centred way. We can create a city that is so much more than a simple re-construction of buildings and transport links. Christchurch could be… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    4 days ago
  • Minister must ensure 111 issue is fixed
    The Police Minister must ensure the 111 fault is fixed as an urgent priority as a 40 minute wait can be the difference between life and death, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash. “The Police have said the fault lies… ...
    4 days ago
  • New Zealand a world leader – in unaffordable housing
    The National Government has made New Zealand a world leader – in unaffordable housing, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The latest International Monetary Fund report shows New Zealand had the world’s second fastest growth in house prices at the… ...
    4 days ago
  • New Zealand a world leader – in unaffordable housing
    The National Government has made New Zealand a world leader – in unaffordable housing, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The latest International Monetary Fund report shows New Zealand had the world’s second fastest growth in house prices at the… ...
    4 days ago
  • Hospital meals making you sick
    I don’t know about you but I felt a bit sick watching Health Minister Jonathon Coleman eat supposed Dunedin hospital food last week.  Dunedin people have tolerated a crumbling hospital, lower access to services, longer waiting times and gross food… ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    4 days ago
  • Hospital meals making you sick
    I don’t know about you but I felt a bit sick watching Health Minister Jonathon Coleman eat supposed Dunedin hospital food last week.  Dunedin people have tolerated a crumbling hospital, lower access to services, longer waiting times and gross food… ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    4 days ago
  • Key needs to stop shifting and come clean
    John Key’s position on his lawyer’s offshore trusts lobbying has changed yet again with the Prime Minister admitting he told Todd McClay that Ken Whitney had approached him, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Yet again information has to be… ...
    4 days ago
  • Key needs to stop shifting and come clean
    John Key’s position on his lawyer’s offshore trusts lobbying has changed yet again with the Prime Minister admitting he told Todd McClay that Ken Whitney had approached him, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Yet again information has to be… ...
    4 days ago
  • Revolutionary art in Palmerston North
    Last night I was a judge at the May Day Cup, an annual theatrical event which celebrates International Workers Day. The event was organised by stalwart unionist Dion Martin and included a range of performers competing for the Cup. This year… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    5 days ago
  • Revolutionary art in Palmerston North
    Last night I was a judge at the May Day Cup, an annual theatrical event which celebrates International Workers Day. The event was organised by stalwart unionist Dion Martin and included a range of performers competing for the Cup. This year… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    5 days ago
  • Andrew Little visits Zaatari refugee camp
    Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Little, has visited the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world, Zaatari in Jordan, a day after seeing New Zealand troops at Camp Taji in Iraq. Mr Little spent several hours in the camp, meeting… ...
    6 days ago
  • Com Com’s Z Energy decision anti-competitive
    The Commerce Commission’s decision to allow Z Energy to buy Caltex can only undermine the competition in the fuel industry that is needed to ensure New Zealanders pay the lowest price for petrol, Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says.… ...
    6 days ago
  • Com Com’s Z Energy decision anti-competitive
    The Commerce Commission’s decision to allow Z Energy to buy Caltex can only undermine the competition in the fuel industry that is needed to ensure New Zealanders pay the lowest price for petrol, Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says.… ...
    6 days ago
  • OAG raps Govt over the knuckles on HNZ contracts
    The Government has been rapped over the knuckles by the Auditor General over its failure to properly manage $2.3m of contracts and conflicts of interest in relation to a merchant banker advising them on the state house sell-off, says Labour’s… ...
    7 days ago
  • OAG raps Govt over the knuckles on HNZ contracts
    The Government has been rapped over the knuckles by the Auditor General over its failure to properly manage $2.3m of contracts and conflicts of interest in relation to a merchant banker advising them on the state house sell-off, says Labour’s… ...
    7 days ago
  • Brownlee must step in as EQC spin exposed
    Gerry Brownlee needs to step in after EQC’s desperate spin in the wake of yesterday’s landmark settlement has been exposed by its own documents, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Yesterday’s settlement showed that thousands of homes may not have… ...
    1 week ago
  • Brownlee must step in as EQC spin exposed
    Gerry Brownlee needs to step in after EQC’s desperate spin in the wake of yesterday’s landmark settlement has been exposed by its own documents, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Yesterday’s settlement showed that thousands of homes may not have… ...
    1 week ago
  • OIO must explain Argentine pollution prosecutions
    The Overseas Investment Office (OIO)has questions to answer about how it safeguarded our sensitive land by allowing foreign investors with criminal prosecutions to purchase Onetai Station in Taranaki, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson David Cunliffe.   “Rafael and Federico Grozovsky… ...
    1 week ago
  • Aussie banks in NZ should ban lending to offshore buyers
    ASB, Westpac and ANZ must confirm whether or not they will continue to fund the over-heated property market by lending to non-resident offshore home buyers, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This issue has arisen because their parent banks have… ...
    1 week ago
  • Aussie banks in NZ should ban lending to offshore buyers
    ASB, Westpac and ANZ must confirm whether or not they will continue to fund the over-heated property market by lending to non-resident offshore home buyers, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This issue has arisen because their parent banks have… ...
    1 week ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere