To: Micheál Martin, Taoiseach.

Freedom Of Information (FOI) needs some TLC.

Freedom Of Information (FOI) needs some TLC.

Reform the Freedom of Information Act, and ban Government ministers and TDs from using 'disappearing messages' option in messaging service apps to conduct official business.

Why is this important?

Recent political developments have highlighted the fact that government ministers are conducting official business by text, and how transparency tools like Freedom of Information are being undermined. [1]

Messaging service apps on phones such as WhatsApp and Signal, an end-to-end encrypted messaging app, are being used to conduct official business. Both apps have an option for messages to disappear after a given period of time.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has called on government ministers to remain prudent with their communication and maintain their communications records - particularly on phones - under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI). However, he must go a step further and explicitly ban the use of disappearing messages for official government business. [2]

Transparency tools like FOI exist so that people have the right to access information and - in our democracy - hold public reps to account. While it's positive that public representatives are using apps such as Signal - knowns for its strong privacy and data protection standards - it's clear FOI policies & processes within the system have not kept pace with the way communication, and technology, have evolved.

NOTES:
[1] The Journal: https://www.thejournal.ie/foi-crisis-zapponegate-simon-coveney-texts-5542010-Sep2021/?utm_source=twitter_short

[2] The Independent: https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/ministers-use-app-designed-to-delete-encrypted-chats-40818881.html