A few weeks ago @h_yd_n asked an interesting question on Twitter:
So are Twitter DM’s OIAable?
— Hayden East (@h_yd_n) June 18, 2013
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.
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.
Will put in all the Ministers responses here.