Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Saturday, March 27, 1999 Published at 00:25 GMT


UK Politics

Internet in copyright shake-up

Direct access is part of Labour's pledge of "open government"

The government is taking advantage of the increasing popularity of the Internet to spread the message of open government.

Cabinet Office Minister Jack Cunningham, better known as Tony Blair's enforcer, has eased copyright restrictions on large amounts of government information.

He said the Internet had opened up a whole new frontier for delivering information.

The changes will allow statistics and official details to become available to ordinary UK citizens.

The material will also be invaluable to the media and businesses.

Invaluable resource


[ image: Jack Cunningham:
Jack Cunningham: "Breaking down information barriers"
Mr Cunningham said: "The government has seized the opportunities offered by information and communication technology to provide access to as wide an audience as possible.

"Breaking down information barriers is vital to enable us all to play an active role in society."

But a White Paper published on Friday said documents which could threaten national security or give personal information about individuals would remain secret.

There will also be strict controls on blank security documents which could be used fraudulently.

The government already publishes a vast amount of information on the Web at www.open.gov.uk.

Welcomed by campaigners

The Campaign for Freedom of Information welcomed the news and particularly the Information Asset Register, which will offer a single point of entry into all publicly available information held by government departments.

But it said it had concerns about proposals to charge for information which was considered "tradeable".

Campaign spokesman, Andrew Ecclestone, said: "If there is to be commercial exploitation of information gathered at taxpayers' expense, there has to be differential charging to ensure non-commercial users can afford access.

He said he feared some resources, such as the Statute Law Database, which catalogues all existing law for England and Wales, might no longer be free of charge to users.

Still no Freedom of Information Act

"It would be absolutely outrageous if people did not have free access to the law," said Mr Ecclestone.

The White Paper is part of Labour's commitment to "open government".

But the government has attracted cricitims for failing to produce a Freedom of Information Act, which would enshrine individuals' rights to view facts held by official bodies.





Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |


UK Politics Contents

A-Z of Parliament
Talking Politics
Vote 2001
Internet Links


Open Government


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Livingstone hits back

Catholic monarchy ban 'to continue'

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Straw on trial over jury reform

Blairs' surprise over baby

Conceived by a spin doctor?

Baby cynics question timing

Blair in new attack on Livingstone

Week in Westminster

Chris Smith answers your questions

Reid quits PR job

Children take over the Assembly

Two sword lengths

Industry misses new trains target