The law relating to official information is unsatisfactory whether it be in respect of the protection of official secrets and government confidentiality, of legitimate public access to official information, of the safeguarding of personal privacy, or of the maintenance of an efficient system of official record-keeping and a proper national archive. These matters — protection, access, privacy and records — are closely related and proposals for reform in the law relating to any one of them must take the others into account. In an ideal world one would plan a coherent reform embracing them all. There is no prospect of a grand design: progress will be piecemeal if it takes place at all and the best we can hope for is to strive for consistency and to avoid the pitfalls marked out by other countries where incompatible provisions have been enacted. Concern about access to personal information and protection against its misuse is probably the major cause for public anxiety about official information in this country, the main reason for support for Freedom of Information legislation, and the subject of the largest proportion of requests for access under such legislation overseas.
KeywordsCivil Servant Government Department Public Access Public Record Criminal Sanction
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