‘A popular government, without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and the people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.’ James Madison, USA President 1822. (quoted in ‘The Right to Know: The Inside Story of the Belgrano Affair’ by Clive Ponting, 1985)
Civil servant, Falklands War whistleblower, writer and historian who died aged 74 on 28 July, was perhaps one of the outstanding 20th century campaigners against official secrecy. Continue reading Remembering Clive Ponting
Just hours after government papers were released yesterday under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) revealing that British pilots have been involved in bombing in Syria, the government launched a cross-party review of the FOI which is likely to lead an assault on public access to government information.
Continue reading Now the Tories are gunning for Freedom of Information
This week has shown the extent to which the state will go to stifle our right to know. Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years, David Miranda, partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, held for nearly 9 hours at Heathrow airport under UK anti-terror laws, his equipment confiscated by the police and subject to a court case today, which resulted in a limited victory. Snowden, a US computer specialist who worked for the CIA and the NSA and leaked details of several top-secret United States and British government mass surveillance programmes to the press, has been hounded by the US authorities and forced to seek temporary asylum in Russia, itself no friend of press freedom. It’s not just our privacy that’s under threat. Given these revelations, the protection of journalistic sources cannot be taken for granted, regardless of what the law says. Writing in the Guardian on 20 August 2013 Roy Greenslade (Snowden, the secret emails …) states (the)… “Snowden leaks confirmed that emails were not secure and that he (Snowden) thought that journalists naïve for believing otherwise…” Continue reading Stopping massive surveillance