Feeds

Whitehall Post-Its, Ministers' GMail to come under FOIA?

Mandarins 'sh*tting bricks' at possible disclosures

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Comment If you see puffs of black smoke drifting over Whitehall this week - don't be alarmed. The Information Commission is expected to rule that "backchannels" such as private email accounts, and other information recorded by Ministers and public servants must be revealed to the public.

The ruling to expand the media available for consideration under FOI legislation is expected towards the end of this week. By which time there won't be a Del or Backspace left that hasn't been worn down to a nub.

"Everyone is shitting bricks", the Guardian quotes one source as saying - and here's why.

"And there's nothing you can do about it"

In recent years, more policy than ever has been created by a politicised and increasingly confident civil service. If the bureaucrats want something passed, such as alcohol pricing or EU business legislation for example, then this rises to the top of the political agenda. If the bureaucrats don't like something, like the Digital Economy Act for example, then it gets kicked into touch, and the law is not implemented.

The howls of panic over the UK's veto (that actually wasn't a veto, but had been hyped as one by No.10) was a good example, promising to diminish the opportunity for genuine policy-making (and cynics would say, junketeering) by civil servants. It may have been a shallow piece of posturing by the Prime Minister - it certainly wasn't a 'veto' as the dictionary defines the word - but it risked ejecting senior mandarins from the catbird seat.

Normally civil servants are able to set long-term policy free from scrutiny, while a carousel of ministers rotates, with barely enough time to master the jargon. Ministers who kick back against the permanent government have resorted to using back channels such as private email. The most successful Conservative Minister in terms of implementing his manifesto promises has been Michael Gove - who routed around the bureaucrats by discussing policy on GMail. Angry civil servants leaked the choicest parts to the Times

So an expansion of FOI into Post-It Note™ territory promises rich pickings for all. Assuming that there's anything, come Friday, left to see. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Redmond resists order to hand over overseas email
Court wanted peek as related to US investigation
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?