The Institute organised a discussion event on freedom of information and open data together with the Embassy of Finland and Birkbeck University on Thursday 30 May 2013 at the residence of the Finnish Ambassador, HE Pekka Huhtaniemi. The event attracted an enthusiastic crowd of over 50 guests.
The first part of the event comprised of a lecture by Dr Tero Erkkilä from the Department of Political and Economic studies at the University of Helsinki and a commentary from Dr Ben Worthy from Birkbeck University.
Tero Erkkilä discussed his recently published book Government Transparency: Impacts and Unintended consequences. The book is based on a study on government transparency and freedom of information in the Nordic context and the context of Finnish society in particular. Erkkilä argues that policies promoting transparency have led to an increasingly economic understanding of access to government information. Whether increased transparency has therefore led to increased democratic accountability can be questioned.
Dr Worthy reflected on the lecture by pointing out how the culture and context shape and shift the meanings of transparency. He contrasted the long tradition of openness in Finland with the secretive administrative culture in the UK and discussed the rationales behind the recent UK open data agenda.
The second part consisted of a panel with Christopher Cook (Financial Times), Paul Gibbons (SOAS/FOIman blog) and Dr Gesche Schmid (Local Government Association) sharing their views and answering questions on the topics of the event.
Video recordings can be seen here.
DISCUSSION EVENT ON GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY AND FREEDOM OF INFORMATION