Freedom of Information
October 22, 2012 6:21 PM   Subscribe

File FOI requests in different countries Use Alaveteli to create Freedom of Information requests from governments around the world, the full responses will be posted. Read what has been posted US Drones example UK office, Kosovo office
posted by naight (4 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Kinda struggling to understand what this is. The pink theme and stock photos on the Alaveteli site filled me with dread, and their Getting Started Guide leaves 99% of the work up to you.
Next, think about the visual identity. At a minimum, you should probably replace the default alaveteli logo that you can see at the top left of It’s also easy to change the colour scheme.

If you have a bit more budget and time, you can rework the design more, with a custom homepage, different fonts, etc; however, the more you customise the site, the harder it is to upgrade in the future; and you’ll need a developer and/or designer to help do these customisations.
Yeah, thanks for that! Why, exactly, do I need their software to email FOI requests, exactly?
posted by Jimbob at 7:54 PM on October 22, 2012

All your base are belong to us
posted by neuron at 9:38 PM on October 22, 2012

As someone who has been on the receiving end a few times in the UK, here are a few random Top Tips.

1. An FoI request must be in writing, give an address for reply, and give a name. Nothing in the law says it must be your real name.

2. You cannot ask for information about yourself under FoI (you do that under the Data Protection Act). You cannot be given information about other people, either, unless they have consented or other exemptions apply.

3. FoI does not give you the right to have questions answered, only to see information which has already been recorded in some form.

4. Ask for a specific document. If you ask for 'everything you've got on X policy', they can refuse on the grounds that to make sure they gave you everything they would have to search every filing system in every office, and that would cost too much.

5. They do not have to give you any information which they intend to publish one day, even though that day may be many years away.

6. Don't bother appealling, even if they've obviously got it wrong. The first step is internal review, which in the overwhelming majority of cases is basically the same people saying no again. The second stage is appeal to the Information Commissioner, where you have a somewhat better chance except that by the time the Information Commissioner's Office gets round to dealing with it - it might be years - the information will be useless or possibly already published. You may do better to make a fresh request from a different angle.
posted by Segundus at 1:20 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

6. Don't bother appealling, even if they've obviously got it wrong.

The situation is somewhat different in the US. 30% of appeals are resolved in favor of the requester. Although it's not better than even odds, the appeals process (sending a single letter) is sufficiently simple that it's worth the effort.
posted by compartment at 1:34 PM on October 23, 2012

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