“This legislation is no longer fit for purpose” post from Mike Gillespie

News and information from the Advent IM team.

From our MD, Mike Gillespie.

Recently, a couple of high-profile breaches have been caused by information being inappropriately released following Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

The people tasked with fulfilling these requests are, in many public sector organisations, low-pay grade administration assistants, who often do not get adequately trained, and who are being tasked with meeting wholly unrealistic timescales.

FOI gives members of the public, from anywhere in the world, an entitlement to request any recorded information from public authorities in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and by UK-wide public authorities based in Scotland.

Requests can also be made by organisations, for example, newspapers and campaign groups

Recorded information includes printed documents, computer files, letters, emails, photographs, and sound or video recordings.

The allotted time to respond to these requests is 20 working days from receipt.

In the 23 years since FOI was enacted, the quantity and the nature of the information that Public Authorities create and hold has grown exponentially.

It is perhaps time that the UK reconsidered the validity of this piece of legislation.

Now I am NOT in any way advocating that the right of the public to scrutinise the workings of the public sector should be removed, far from it. I strongly believe that, as it says in the whitepaper Your Right to Know “Unnecessary secrecy in government leads to arrogance in governance and defective decision-making.” and “Openness is fundamental to the political health of a modern state. This White Paper marks a watershed in the relationship between the government and the people of the United Kingdom.” I very much believe that these principles are as valid today as they were back then.

What I do believe, however, is that the legislation, and especially its timescales for responding, are no longer fit for the Information Age and there is a need for the legislation to be modernised.

Advent IM look at the size of human data estate and what it might represent in actual terms. 175 zettabytes is billion years of music.

The amount of data we are collecting and adding to the human data estate means we will probably have more than 175 zettabytes worth by 2025, possibly more…

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