Information wants to be Free

I was pottering about on the internet today and stumbled across this site about Freedom of Information Act requests. It is a great resource and I found exactly what I was looking for. I also spotted a request that had been made to the Departement of Innovation, Universities and Skills about communication about OOXML. This was only mildly interesting, but it got me thinking. This request would have been better addressed to BSI itself rather than DIUS, but it wasn’t. The reason being that the BSI is not in scope of the Freedom of Information act, our national standards body is not considered a public authority and is not compelled to be open and transparent. This just doesn’t sound right to me, especially when I read the act itself and the schedules of bodies that are in scope. After an exchange of emails with the administrators of I decided that a question to my MP was in order, so off I went to and sent off this note.

Friday 23 January 2009

Dear Jeremy Hunt,

The British Standards Institution is a commercial company providing
documentation and professional services around standardisation. It also
acts under a Royal Charter to be the UK national standards body on
behalf of the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills. It is
my belief that when acting on behalf of the UK as national standards
body it should be considered a public authority under the terms of the
Freedom of Information Act and listed in Schedule 1 Part VI of the act.
This would be similar to the situation of the BBC which is included “in
respect of information held for purposes other than those of
journalism, art or literature”.
Can you let me know if this omission can be corrected as openness and
transparency in the decision making processes of international
standardisation is of great importance to us all.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Bell

Now I await his response.