Searching for Proactive Transparency Global Standards: Pilot International Survey on Governmental Online Openness

After we had analyzed an article by Professor Sheila S. Coronel called «Measuring Openness: A survey of transparency ratings and the prospects for a global index»  we asked ourselves: Is it possible to create a worldwide measure for the openness of governments? In order to answer this question we organized a pilot survey on the basis of an already-completed method of grading the openness of government websites. We invited our colleagues from Belarus, Georgia and the USA to participate.

The results are available on the Infometer website.

A Bit Open Data

We present results of audit performed together with the Open Government and addressing open data publication at Russian federal executive government bodies' websites.

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Since 2013, open data has become a key topic of discussions on governmental openness. They expect that "free" vast volumes of machine-readable official information will facilitate communication between the government and the public, and bring economic profit. Some people already consider the Open Data as a basis for open state governance, expecting that its other components will develop following data openness. The Openness Standard for Federal Government Bodies as well as federal legislation pays significant attention to open data. The Freedom of Information Foundation has studied how the requirements are observed.

Monitoring of the government bodies’ official websites as an efficient tool for public control

We would like to present a short review of our most ambitious project which involves our experts in all parts of Russia – monitoring of the official websites of public authorities and local governments. This is a story about how expert control improves the work of authorities.

The Ministry of Justice Warns the Freedom of Information Foundation

The Freedom of Information Foundation has got one more warning. This time it comes from the St.-Petersburg Head Department of the Ministry for Justice of Russia. They threaten to impose a fine upon our organization or even to strike it off. The Foundation will contest the warning in court.

The scan of the warning (in Russian) is attached to the Russian page.

The Court Rejects the FIF's Application against the Prosecutor's Recommendation

On September 5, 2014, the Moskovsky district court of St.-Petersburg held the fourth hearing session on the FIF's application against the prosecutor's recommendation requiring that the FIF should register as an organization performing functions of a foreign agent.

Even before the court hearings, on August 28, the Ministry for Justice of Russia included the FIF into the register of NGOs performing functions of a foreign agent, based on the prosecutor's recommendation in question that has been contested.

The court session lasted for about six hours when the FIF lawyers were proving that the organization did not perform political activities. However, the court rejected the FIF's application. The Freedom of Information Foundation intends to appeal against the court decision.

The online text broadcast of the court hearing session is available (in Russian) at our Facebook page.

FIF Contests Prosecutor's Recommendation: The Case Adjourned for the Second Time

Preliminary hearings of the Freedom of Information Foundation's case are adjourned until August 12.

The Moskovsky district court of St.-Petersburg scheduled for August 7, 2014, to start examination of the case upon the FIF's application against the prosecutor's recommendation requiring that the FIF should register as an organization performing functions of a foreign agent. The prosecutor's office provided to the court materials of the first inspection that had resulted in an admonition to the FIF, and those of the second inspection resulting in the above-mentioned recommendation. The judge requested additional materials including printouts of the pages of the FIF's Internet resources alleged to prove political activities of our organization. The case is adjourned until August 12.

This is the second time the case is adjourned after 17 June when the first adjournment took place due to absence of a representative of the prosecutor's office.

The Suprun Case: The European Court for Human Rights Receives the Case Parties' Memoranda

Both parties of the Suprun v. Russia case have submitted their memoranda answering the questions put by the European Court regarding issues of legal interpretation of the term "personal and family secret".

The Freedom of Information Foundation described in details the progress of the criminal case against Mikhail Suprun, Professor of History, who was in 2009 convicted within Article 137 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation" for "unlawful collecting information comprising personal or family secrets" within an academic research aimed to prepare a Memory Book dedicated to Russian citizens of German origin repressed and committed to special settlements in 1940s. The case was finally terminated only because the statute of limitation has expired (this is not a rehabilitating reason).  After all further appeals were rejected by Russian court instances, the defense team submitted an application to the European Court for Human Rights.  In January 2014, the Court communicated the case.

Ivan Pavlov, JD, PhD, FIF Board Chair, and Maria Voskobitova are Suprun's legal attorneys in this case.

 

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We are always open to cooperation

The methodology developed by Freedom of information Foundation for monitoring official websites is applicable widely. It is convenient, efficient and can be used for research in various fields. We are interested in cooperation with different governmental and non-government entities in various countries in order to extend the monitoring practice, including possible joint comparative researches.