Australian Government Redacts Piracy Meeting Docs, Mocks Freedom Of Information Act

Australian Government Redacts Piracy Meeting Docs, Mocks Freedom Of Information Act

The federal government seems to enjoy holding meetings to discuss piracy and copyright laws and then not tell anyone about them (other than those involved). When inquiring minds, such as Delimiter’s Renai LeMay, do attempt to find out what goes on, well, the government is happy to flat out deny requests under the Freedom of Information Act. Recently LeMay tried once again to obtain notes from the latest meeting and, while the government relented this time, almost all the documents were censored beyond usefulness.

Consumer groups have already been denied access to the piracy-related meetings, which is disconcerting in itself, but when the government decides to, well, make a mockery of the Freedom of Information Act, you can’t help but wonder what the heck it’s thinking.

LeMay’s request resulted in the release of five documents, though they fail to include a list of attendees… which doesn’t exist, according to the Attorney-General’s Department. The identities of those invited were simply redacted, along with most of the contents of 18 pages of information taken down during the meeting by various government staffers.

Original photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty; edited by Gizmodo

If you think it’s bad enough the media is being treated like this, don’t worry, the AGD hasn’t forgotten about the public at large. From Delimiter:

In a briefing issued to Attorney-General Nicola Roxon regarding the meeting [it was mentioned that] a public communications plan regarding the talks was “not required”. “There has been media interest in the progress of these discussions, but information discussed will not be released publicly,” it stated.

A senior legal officer for the department, Jane Purcell, justified the redactions by saying that while the government continues to discuss a solution to piracy, it would be “contrary to the public interest” to release information about the meetings. She also offered the following convoluted explanation:

“Disclosure of the documents while the negotiations are still in process, would, in my view, prejudice, hamper and impede those negotiations to an unacceptable degree … That would, in my view, be contrary to the interests of good government — which would, in turn, be contrary to the public interest.”

LeMay’s piece over at Delimiter does an excellent job of deconstruction the AGD’s other reasons for censoring the FoL request, and if you’re interested, I encourage you to take a look.

[Delimiter, thanks Justin]

Image: Vikas.