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Saturday, 18 June 2011

Grumpy blogger: DCMS and BIS late with FOIA responses, grrr @ mainstream press

I know, it's the ultimate blogging cliché - bashing the mainstream media... I've refrained from bashing journalists on my blog, partly because my wife is one!

Yesterday the Guardian ran a story about the cost of the Digital Economy Act.  They linked to my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, but not my blog up 24 hours earlier.  On one hand I thank the Guardian for running the story and raising awareness, but would it be so hard to provide a link-back to my original story?

So I tweeted the story author Josh Halliday, who updated the article, but insisted on calling me a lobbyist.  A digital rights lobbyist, but still a lobbyist.  Ok, what's in a name - I can live with that.  But then, minutes later, the article reverts to the original.  No credit for the legwork.

A bit more work went into my series of  requests than just firing them off.  I had to work out how to word them to ensure I got an answer, and I've been gently reminding officials at DCMS and Ofcom that it would be hard to refuse my request under the law!  A surprising number of FOIA requests are not answered for various technical reasons.

The dilemma I have is in my use of the MySociety website whatdotheyknow.com to submit future FOIA requests.  On one hand it saves on public money by reducing duplication - any response enters the public archive and is searchable by people wanting similar information.

On the other hand it tips the mainstream media, who have shown a disregard for crediting those who put in the groundwork. 

So now the departments Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) are late answering the rest of my request on DEAct costs.  The requests should have been answered by 17th June 2011, as normally required by law.

In fact when I first received the response from Ofcom I had a dilemma whether to wait for DCMS to respond, but I was worried the media might run the story without crediting my legwork.  Well they did just that, and now the Guardian and other mainstream media are tipped to the response. 

I feel a moral obligation to continue using whatdotheyknow.com - it's the right thing to do from a digital policy perspective!  Lets hope the moral obligation becomes more of a 2-way street with the rest of the press, whom of course I love dearly ;-)



  1. Digital economy is doing better than marketing in real life, but it does have some drawbacks.

  2. Digital economy is just a small speck compared to the brick-and-mortar economy, although it's quickly gaining ground.

    - replacement windows webmaster

  3. I agree with Phyllis that its not compared to the usual brick and mortar in your face business BUT i wouldn't call it a "speck". Everything else is managed online you know.


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