Electronic Frontiers Australia welcomes the Attorney-General’s recent announcement that Australia will join the Open Government Partnership. EFA have long campaigned for greater transparency in governance and decision making, particularly those matters relating to digital freedom, access and privacy.
The announcement comes just days after it was revealed that the Australian Securities and Investment Commission had inadvertently blocked up to 1,200 legitimate websites without any public oversight. EFA described the incident as “alarming” and in a statement said that it raised serious concerns about transparency in government.
EFA has also been very concerned about the lack of transparency in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement negotiations, noting only last week the secrecy surrounding the talks. We have previously noted the secrecy of the negotiations and called for greater transparency.
Governments who sign up to the Open Government Partnership commit to embracing a “high-level Open Government Declaration; deliver a country action plan developed with public consultation; and commit to independent reporting on their progress going forward.” They also acknowledge that “citizens have a right to seek information about governmental activities”, and commit to promoting “increased access to information and disclosure about governmental activities at every level of government”.
EFA urges the government to fully implement the measures contained in the Open Government Declaration throughout all levels of government. In particular, we look forward to working with the government to develop the ‘country action plan’ to see increased transparency in government decision making.
EFA supports the right of citizens to seek information about government decisions, and urge the government to open up the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. This is a great opportunity for the government to level with the Australian public as to what is being discussed and the impacts it may have on their digital freedom, access and privacy.