99 Pages
English

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Your Right To Know

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Description

This book makes a basic promise: It will help you pry loose government information. Governments are obsessed with controlling the message. This is your book to help get records they do not want to disclose.
Your Right to Know tells you how to use freedom-of-information laws to gain access to government records on spending, policies and activities. It is a citizen’s guide and a research tool for the general public, special-interest groups, journalists and businesses.
Freedom-of-information laws exist in dozens of countries, and this book shares the principles of research in easy-to-pursue steps to obtain the information you want from governments and other institutions.
Foreword xiii
Introduction xv
Part One: Background 1
1 History 3
2 The Laws 5
1. The Right to Information 5
2. Balancing the Right to Know with Certain Protections 6
3. The Privacy Side 6
4. Fees 6
4.1 Exemption from fees 6
5. The Right to Complain 7
3 Who Uses Access to Information? 9
4 Getting Started 13
1. The Iceberg Theory 13
2. Getting Started 14
3. Research 15
vi Your Right to Know
4. What You Know and What You Don’t 17
Part One Review 19
Part Two: How to Request Information 21
5 Writing a Request 23
1. Who 23
2. What 25
3. When 28
4. Where 28
5. How 29
6. Drafting the Request 31
Part Two Review 35
Part Three: Follow-up 37
6 Acknowledgement Letter 39
7 Follow-up 43
1. Duty to Assist 43
2. Follow-up 45
8 Keeping Track of Requests and Timing 47
1. Keeping Track 47
2. Extensions 48
3. Delays 50
4. Fees 51
9 Negotiating 55
Part Three Review 63
Part Four: The Response to Your Request 65
10 Decoding the Information 67
11 Exemptions and Exclusions 73
1. Exemptions 73
2. Exclusions 77
Contents vii
12 Gaps in the Laws 81
13 Complaints 83
1. Filing a Complaint in Canada 83
2. Filing a Complaint in the United States 88
Part Four Review 93
Part Five: Some Useful Tactics 95
14 Piggybacking 97
15 Previously Released, Archival, and
Overlooked Records 99
1. Previously Released Records 99
2. Archival Records 100
3. A Closer Look at Previously Processed Requests 101
4. Overlooked Records 105
16 Data 109
Part Five Review 113
Part Six: Other Avenues 115
17 The Privacy Acts 117
18 Reform 121
Conclusion 125
Appendix I: Tips for Journalists 127
Appendix II: Sources for Further Reading 129
Download Kit 135
Tables
1 Access to Information Requests 10
2 Federal Access Requests in Canada 49
3 Canadian Exemptions 2012–2013 75
viii Your Right to Know
4 Database 111
5 Privacy Requests in 2012–2013 120
Samples
1 Question Period Briefing 26
2 Unique Agency Record 27
3 Acknowledgement Letter 41
4 Fee Statement 52
5 Access to Information Request Form 57
6 Initial Response 58
7 Second Response 59
8 Fee Statement 60
9 Email Detailing Phone Call to Reduce Fees 61
10 Formal Response Letter 71
11 Emails: Decoding the Information 72
12 Exemption 76
13 Cabinet Record 79
14 Canadian Access to Information Complaint Forms 85
15 Complaint Letter 86
16 Complaint Acknowledgement Letter 87
17 Two Illustrations: Before and After Complaining 90
18 US Template Letter 92
19 Illustration of Archival Record 102
20 Completed Requests 103
21 Illustration of Video Obtained under the
Federal Access Law 106
22 Illustration of a Newsletter Obtained under the
Federal Access Law 107

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Published by
Published 30 April 2015
Reads 0
EAN13 9781770409743
Language English

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