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Why we do this

What are the guiding principles of WhatDoTheyKnow?

Beliefs #
  • We believe that easy access to government-held information should be a universal right; that it generally makes ordinary people more powerful, and helps build better, less corrupt and more responsive nations.
  • We believe that citizens have the right to request information that helps them to assess the effectiveness and morality of the bodies that their taxes are funding.
  • We believe that transparency matters because it discourages bad governance, helps citizens to understand how power is wielded, and can be used by citizens to exert power over public and private bodies.
  • We believe that people have an equal right to information under the law, and that this right should be applied equally to all.
  • We believe that aspects of the UK’s transparency laws and processes do not serve citizens as best they might, and whilst we are not primarily a campaign group, we will take opportunities to highlight these problems.
Goals #
  • To make it as easy as possible for people to obtain information from public-sector bodies in the United Kingdom.
  • To build a public archive of information released under Freedom of Information laws.
  • To advocate for greater transparency in UK public institutions.
Protocols and principles #
  • Where possible, the decisions we make relating to content on the site, and the operations of the site, should be public.
  • Through running our site we promote access to information legislation and show how it can be used.
  • We provide tools to allow users to help give context to requests and responses.
  • We give requests for information and responses a permanent, credible citable URL on the Internet.
  • We aim to bring transparency to the operation of Freedom of Information laws by public bodies.
  • WhatDoTheyKnow is mostly automatic or driven by users and authorities. Administrative action is the exception, not the rule.
  • We take steps to minimise the workload for those administering the site: wherever possible technical solutions to issues are found rather than relying on manual intervention.
  • We aim to get as high a proportion of FOI responses available online as possible.