All posts tagged Official Information Act

Are Twitter DMs official information?

A few weeks ago @h_yd_n asked an interesting question on Twitter:

 

The conversation that followed led Di, Hadyn, and I to actually make a request under the Official Information Act.

We asked a pretty straight forward request to see if DMs that were run by Ministers fell under the act in the same way that email does. Our thinking was that Twitter is another communication tool that politicians are increasingly using to communicate and wanted to test (in a non-malicious and not too silly way) whether that was the case.

So here is the response we got today from the Prime Minister’s office. Note that other Ministers are yet to respond.

Twitter DM Official Information Act Request by Jackson James Wood

So what does this tell us?

Di and I think that it confirms DM’s sent by Ministers are OIAable.

In this case because

“Rt Hon John Key does not respond via this account personally, the account is managed on his behalf by staff in this office. The only DMs sent from the account are occasional responses to correspondents suggesting who they should get in touch with regarding their query.”

it does seem fair that there is no public interest in releasing the information and we’re happy to take the PM at his (and his staffs) word.

However, with Ministers like Judith Collins (@JudithCollinsMP) who do personally use their twitter account we might see something interesting.

After all, Twitter is just another way to communicate. It does make sense that “official correspondence” might take place via Twitter, it is pretty cool way to talk to people.

So, in theory, anything that isn’t covered by S9 of the OIA should be released with other ministers when they get back to us.

It will be interesting to see if any official correspondence has taken place via Twitter, this might be a world first if it has!

Our OIA also raises questions about whether Facebook messages and other ‘private’ functions on social media are covered by the act.

We know that there is a grey area between “personal” and “official” correspondence, and we wonder whether the Cabinet Manual should be updated to include rules around social media use and whether the act itself needs to be updated.

We thank the PM and Mr Eagleson for their response and we look forward to the other Ministers replying in kind with the spirit the request was intended.

Update

Will put in all the Ministers responses here.

The Truth banned in prisons

A little while back I heard that The Truth — “New Zealand news the way you want it – for more than 105 years” — was banned in NZ prisons. I wanted to confirm this and see if any other publications were outright banned in NZ prisons.

According to the letter below from the Department of Corrections, The Truth is the only specifically named publication which is banned by Auckland prisons.

“The Auckland Prison Manger and other staff believed the Truth newspaper contained objectionable material and was compromising the prison safety and security. The Truth ban at Auckland Prison was tested by a complaint to the ombudsman and was not upheld.”

The letter goes on to say that other publications may be banned because they are pornographic, violent, gang-related, or prison staff consider they will interfere with effective management of prison.

So each prison has a long list of items, not just publications, which are banned. The general terms are put on this schedule.

Not sure what to make of this. Is The Truth really that objectionable? It would be interesting to see the list of publications which had been confiscated or stopped from coming into the prison under the discretion of prison staff.

J Wood – 11 Dec 12 – Publications Banned From Prisons