In January 2005 the Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into effect. For the first time ever a general right to access information held by public authorities was created. In the years since then it has been used by thousands of people: some of these have been journalists, or campaigners but many have been ordinary members of the public. Many extraordinary stories have emerged. For instance, without the FOI Act, it is very unlikely that the scandal of MPs’ expenses would ever have come out.
Now, in 2012, the FOI Act is being put under what is known as “post-legislative scrutiny”. What this means is that a parliamentary select committee (the Justice Committee) conducts an inquiry into how the Act has worked in practice, and whether any changes are needed. #saveFOI is a campaign set up by a diverse group of individuals who are concerned that this may result in an Act which is weaker and more difficult to use.
There have been great advances in transparency in public life since the FOI Act came into effect: we don’t want to see these reversed.