Antoin O’Lachtain is from Digital Rights Ireland. “One the areas that the small guys do well is getting down into detail. What the Freedom of Information Act (UK) allows the small guy to do is find the important detail and then put it out in to the public domain”. You can also use the Data Protection Act (UK). It is good for getting facts, but he argues you also need to contextualise facts, something that blogs are potentially very good at doing. Shortage of time, prevents journalists routinely to engage in such time consuming processes, but provides bloggers with an opportunity to get in there. It can be expensive. One guy Antoin knows of one guy who racked up €5,000 in a series of requests. Damien’s experience is that some departments will help you find the precise information, others will not give you any help to find what you are looking for. Guido gets a sense that requests may flag up a warning to the organisations concern to prepare a response. Antoin: it won’t uncover deep corruption. Private detection it is not.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty