So, for those not in the know (…groan) this week is Right to Know Week.
Right to Know (RTK) Week is and internationally designated week with events taking place around the world. It is designed to improve people’s awareness of their rights to access government information and the role such access plays in democracy and good governance. Here in Canada there is an entire week’s worth of events planned and it is easy to find out what’s happening near you.
Last year, during RTK Week I was invited to speak in Ottawa on a panel for parliamentarians. My talk, called Government Transparency in a Digital Age (blog post about it & slideshare link) seemed to go well and the Information Commissioner soon after started quoting some of my ideas and writings in her speeches and testimony/reports to parliamentary. Unsurprisingly, she has become a fantastic ally and champion in the cause for open data. Indeed, most recently, the Federal Information Commissioner, along with all the her provincial counterparts, released a joint statement calling on their respective governments to proactively disclosing information “in open, accessible and reusable formats.”
What is interesting about all this, is that over the course of the last year the RTK community – as witnessed by the Information Commissioners transformation – has begun to understand why “the digital” is radically transforming what access means and how it can work. There is an opportunity to significantly enlarge the number and type of allies in the cause of “open government.” But for this transformation to take place, the traditional players will need to continue to rethink and revise both their roles and their relationships with these new players. This is something I hope to pick up on in my talk.
So yes… this year, I’ll be back in Ottawa again.
I’ll once again be part of the Conference for Parliamentarians-Balancing Openness and the Public Interest in Protecting Information panel, which I’ll be doing with:
- David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States
- Vanessa Brinkmann, Counsel, Initial Request Staff, Office of Information Policy, U.S. Department of Justice; and
- James Travers of the Toronto Star
Perhaps even more exciting than the panel I’m on though is the panel that shows how quickly both this week and the Information Officer’s are trying to transform. Consider that, this year, RTK will include a panel on open data titled “Push or Pull: Liberating Government Information” it will be chaired by Microsoft’s John Weigelt and have on it:
- Nathalie Des Rosiers, General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association
- Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy
- Kady O’Malley, Parliamentary blogger for CBC.ca’s Inside Politics blog
- Jeff Sallot, Carleton University journalism instructor and former Globe and Mail journalist
Sadly I have a prior commitment back in Vancouver so won’t be there in person, but hope to check it out online, hope you will too.
Welcome to Right to Know Week. Hope you’ll join in the fray.
Have fun! BTW, Natahlie Desrosiers is a big supporter of Fair Vote Canada. She was president of the Law Comission of Canada which made a report on electoral reform.