Friday, June 19, 2009

Open and transparent? Yeah, right.

I know Wikipedia has all sorts of problems around accuracy and that the dictionary version, Wiktionary, is sometimes not much better.

But, every now and then, crowd sourcing throws up the perfect definition. Here's one of the entries for redaction: The removal of evidence of criminal deception or embarrassing lewd behaviour from a document.


The details of MPs expenses have been so heavily redacted (read censored) that it makes a mockery of any claim for openness or transparency. In a recent Times article, Heather Brooke, the journalist credited with sparking the whole allowances row, said: "When it comes to politicians advocating open government the best advice is to ignore what they say and focus on what they do."

I've talked about politicians paying lip service to open government before, but if you get five minutes, read about Ms Brooke's four year battle against MPs and the Government to see their expenses and compare it with the 'road to Damascus' type statements of almost all MPs today.

Where does redaction fit with those statements?

Ms Brooke's Times article is also worth a read especially if you have a fondness for 'Yes, Minister' and the sort of tangled thinking that leaves us with a secret public consultation ...