from The National, 19 January 2015
Freedom of information rights have been seriously eroded over the last ten years because governments have failed to ensure that the law has kept pace with privatisation, Scotland’s information tsar is warning.
Rosemary Agnew, the Scottish Information Commissioner, criticises ministers for not applying freedom of information (FoI) legislation to housing associations, private prisons and many other organisations that have taken over public services. Powers to extend the law have been “woefully underused”, she says, and hundreds of thousands of people have lost FoI rights as a result.
She is so concerned that she has taken the unusual step of submitting a special report to the Scottish Parliament calling for FoI rights to be immediately reinstated. The report, which is published today, represents a direct challenge to the Scottish government.
“It is quite simple really,” says Agnew. “If FoI law does not cover the right organisations we stand to lose more than access to information rights: we stand to lose the opportunities it gives all of us to have a say in how Scotland is governed and run on our behalf.”