Information Act requests soar

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4,000 requests have been made in less than one month under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA). The act, designed to promote more openness amongst public sector bodies, requires release of information within 20 days if requested.

"Across the 100,000 public bodies covered by the Act, a huge amount of information has been released," said Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer in a statement.

"We have sown the seeds of cultural change towards a government at all levels that is more open, transparent and accountable. But we must remember this is not a free for all. There will always be areas - like national security - where it is necessary for information to be withheld to allow government to act effectively."

Falconer's caveat comes after the revelation that over half of FoIA requests have come from by the press.

SC has already received complete FoIA responses from two national public bodies. At least one other response arrived incomplete and further details are being sought. If deadlines are met a comprehensive report on the state of information security within over 20 public bodies should be ready by March.

At this early stage SC has already learned of employees being fired due to computer misuse and lack of intrusion prevention/detection systems within public sector bodies.

A three-monthly statistical report covering requests made to central government from January to March 2005 is due to be published in June.

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