Freedom of Information panel, orderly and disorderly

On Tuesday 21 Wednesday 29 February 2012 I’m on the panel for “Freedom of information?”, presented by the Recordkeeping Roundtable.

The promo sayeth:

In a connected world where information sharing is easier and has more impact than ever before, is the current framework of FOI, information security, privacy and archives laws and practices delivering the information society needs in a timely and appropriate way? This panel discussion will be about:

  • assessing the effectiveness of current information access and security laws and methods — are they hopelessly broken?
  • the culture of secrecy and withholding by government agencies
  • how technology and activism offer those with the skills and motivation some alternative and very powerful ways to access and reveal information, and
  • what can be done to address the current state of things and move to better ways of making information available when and where it’s needed.

I think I’ll be rabbiting on about the internet and stuff. Information security, digital distribution, authentication of records, WikiLeaks, Anonymous. That sort of thing.

My fellow panelists are former diplomat Dr Philip Dorling, who now leads the journalistic pack in FOI stuff; and Tim Robinson, Manager, Archives and Records Management Services at the University of Sydney. The moderator is Cassie Findlay, Recordkeeping Roundtable co-founder and digital archivist.

It’s at the Australian Technology Park, Redfern, Sydney, and doors open at 5.30pm for a 6.00pm start. It wraps at 7.30pm for dinner. Admission is $5 and you should probably register.

[Update 16 February: Date changed to 29 February, as Dr Dorling must alas attend a funeral on the original date.]

Senate to re-open Bloggers versus Journalists

That tired “bloggers are not journalists” debate looks like it’ll surface in Australia’s Senate soon, thanks to The Greens. It’ll be annoying. But it’ll be a Good Thing.

At the end of October the House of Representatives passed the Evidence Amendment (Journalists’ Privilege) Bill 2010, which is all about protecting the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. In the usual jargon, it’s a “journalist shield law”.

Australia was apparently the only major democracy without such a law in place or in progress, so it’s welcome. And, in the words of the new Greens MP for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, “this bill is a good example of how all parties can collaborate on a worthwhile initiative in a way that would not have happened without the currently composed parliament.”

Bandt continued:

To facilitate its passage, the Greens will support the bill in its current form in the House, but I indicate now that we will seek minor amendments to it in the Senate. In particular, we believe that it should be made explicit that the bill covers bloggers, citizen journalists and documentary filmmakers, and that the privileges provided by the bill cover anyone engaged in the process of journalism, no matter who they are or in what medium they publish.

Well I reckon it’s great that the new law might cover more people, not just those who work as employee-journalists in the industrial media factories. It’s great that it might be technology- and medium-neutral. But…

What the heck is a “blogger” or a “citizen journalist”?

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