Posts by Andrew E

  • Hard News: Media Take: The creeping…, in reply to Sacha,

    I understand the Swedish norm for responding to an access to documents request is 24 hours. But it is an access to documents law, not an access to information law; there are important differences.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Media Take: The creeping…,

    re: proactive publication, readers might be interested in this report on how the Norwegian Freedom of Information Act (PDF in English) works.

    From that article:

    Norway’s Freedom of Information Act cuts across state, county and municipal governments. It interfaces with the Archives Act and Noark by requiring administrative agencies to keep and publish a register of metadata daily to an online access portal, the Offentlig Elektronisk Postjournal (OEP). The OEP, a central access point for government information, enables users to search all records across government for a given issue and make requests easily and rapidly. Anyone, anywhere in the world can request access to records through the OEP. See http://www.oep.no/.

    Under the Act, government documents, including email, are available for access as soon as they are produced, received or transmitted by a central government agency unless there is a legal restriction. About one fifth of the records, classified for security reasons, are not listed in the register. Agencies have five days in which to respond to information requests, via the OEP or direct to the agency. They provide the documents by email, fax or regular mail, normally within two to three days. By the end of 2012, the OEP contained over five million registry entries published by 105 government agencies. It processed about 20,000 information requests a month: 50% from journalists (50%), 28% from citizens and businesses, 21% from public employees and 3% from researchers. The Government is considering the possibility of providing direct access to full text documents through the OEP to make administration more open and transparent and enable government agencies to work more efficiently. There is significant potential for linking records to data to support data traceability and enable reliable Open Data.

    I spoke to a Norwegian journalist a few years ago about how well this system works in practice. He said so many documents are published that he had to unsubscribe from the RSS feed, but the search tools were pretty good. Some gaming occurred, with agencies sometimes deliberately applying obscure titles to documents so they didn't sound too interesting.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Snowden and New Zealand,

    One possibility that should be considered is how agencies define 'collection'.

    The plain English sense of the word, gathering and storing for future retrieval, is not necessarily the meaning of the word as used by these agencies.

    They define 'collection' as when a human being looks at material that's been vacuumed up by automated systems. See this piece by the EFF.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: TPP: Error Correction,

    And I'll ingest more caffeine, so I don't miss the sarcasm in future... :-)

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: TPP: Error Correction,

    If they have nothing to hide, surely they have nothing to fear. That's the excuse that governments are using to apply more surveillance to civil society - it's just as validly applied to them.

    I agree with you about the secrecy, Mark, but 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' is not a valid argument in relation to the surveillance. The point is that governments should be accountable to their people, not the other way around. And that in order to have a legitimately representative democracy, the public needs the information disclosed to them in order that they can give (or withhold) informed consent to any deal reached.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Mandela,

    I was at that concert at Wembley, and it was very moving to see the man - even in the distance - for whom I'd been on so many protests, and pickets outside of the South African embassy in London. I also remember how Mrs T and her cohorts had described him and the ANC as terrorists, and how fiercely they resisted sanctions.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: The Gift that Keeps on Making…,

    I'm not so sure about that. Quite a few workplaces use web filtering software such as Web Marshal. My (possibly incorrect) understanding of that tool is that it does intercept employees https connections to web mail or online banking sites using man-in-the-middle type certificate fraud. Given what we've learnt about the NSA weakening security standards and software, I would not be at all surprised to find such software enabling agencies to monitor workplace Internet usage.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: The Gift that Keeps on Making…,

    Readers interested in this subject might also be interested in Bruce Schneier's guide to staying secure in The Guardian.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A GCSB Roundup,

    The sound on the recording is f-ing awful. It's a disgrace that there isn't a proper, high-quality recording and transmission of select committee sessions. UK Select Committees have had this for years. Is NZ democracy really run on the smell of an oily rag?

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Music for Occasions,

    Depending on the circumstances (aside from death), Arvo Part's Cantus in Memoriam for Benjamin Britten always sends a shiver down my spine.

    When my sister was a naughty teenager she suggested she'd like Prince's Darling Nikki at hers. I'd like to think she's moved on from that now...

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 199 posts Report Reply

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