UK moves to extend freedom of information laws

Britain`s government should release its secrets sooner, the country`s deputy prime minister said.

Last Updated: Jan 07, 2011, 00:48 AM IST

London: Britain`s government should release
its secrets sooner, the country`s deputy prime minister said
today, proposing reforms to strengthen the UK`s relatively new
freedom of information law.

Nick Clegg said he wanted to cut the time officials
can keep records from the public down to 20 years from the
current 30 years.

He also said he hoped to expand the scope of law,
which now covers UK government departments and local councils.

Clegg said he wants it to cover more para-governmental
bodies, such as Britain`s Association of Chief Police Officers
and its Financial Services Ombudsman.

He said the moves were intended to "resettle the
relationship between people and government."

"We still live in a society where information is
hoarded by the few. And, as we know, information is knowledge,
and knowledge is power," Clegg said in excerpts released to
the media ahead of a speech due to be delivered tomorrow.

Britain`s Freedom of Information Act has been on the
books for about a decade, far less time than its US
counterpart, which was signed into law in 1966.

US rules on declassification vary depending on the
nature of the official information. Presidential records can
be obtained through freedom of information requests as soon as
six years after the end of the president`s administration,
although some exemptions apply. Classified information is
presumed declassified when it reaches 25 years of age.

PTI