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Information Law - Essay Example

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The Freedom of Information Act 2000 manifests the execution of the public's right to information on matters of public concern in the United Kingdom. It lays down the concrete basis for the exercise of the right to access public information. Under the Act, any person, whether individual or juridical entity, may gain access to information or data held by government authorities, by filing a written request to the office or official concerned…
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Information Law Essay
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Information Law

However, not all information may be divulged by the public authorities. Those relating to matters of national security for example, cannot be given, as well as those which can be properly classified as secret information even of foreign governments or international organizations. Prohibition in these areas is considered absolute and no amount of reconsideration may reverse the same. Other areas on the other hand are exempted, subject to some qualifications. In these aspects, the public authority concerned have to decide where public interest would be subserved more: in maintaining the exemption or not. In case a request in denied, the requesting party may ask for a reconsideration from the Information Commissioner who has the power to reverse the decision of the public authority who previously denied the request. This decision however may still be appealed to the Information Tribunal, a special tribunal especially created for the same. In relation thereto, the Government per se may interfere and override the decisions of the public authority, Information Commissioner and Information Tribunal. ...
In short, every right has its own limitations. The national interest cannot be bargained away in exchange for the public's right to know. The Information Act 2000 recognizes this inherent right of every state, the government in particular, to maintain some qualified information which may prove detrimental to the national interest. The public's right to know, although recognized, is inferior to the national interest, and cannot be placed above and beyond the so-called national interest since the latter affects the country as a whole.

Another important consideration is the prohibition on request for personal information, despite the fact that some of them are being kept and recorded by an agency of the government. Since this involves not just public information but mainly personal data of the state's constituents, requests for this kind of information are properly covered by the Data Protection Act 1998. Personal right of individuals and entities are considered beyond the ambit of the state's disposition.

The Information Act 2000 also safeguards the basic right of the state and of the constituents against undue investigation and prosecution brought about by the information that could be accessed from the public authorities through the exercise of the rights under the Act. It provides that the requesting party must state with certainty the information it seeks to know. The requesting party is not allowed to ask for general information about a particular topic or person, nor ask a generalized question that could otherwise lead to exposure of substantially all information about such topic or person. To allow otherwise would then sanction the so-called fishing expedition, a ... Read More
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