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Freedom of Information gives you the power to request data from any public authority. It’s a citizen’s right which is upheld in many countries around the world, and a tool by which we may monitor what publicly-funded bodies are doing on our behalf.

This channel for obtaining information can, of course, also be very useful for those running campaigns. Whether you need data to back up your research, or have ambitions to uncover corruption or misuse of public funds, Freedom of Information can help.

mySociety provides Alaveteli, the open source software that underpins many FoI sites around the world, including our own WhatDoTheyKnow in the UK.

See whether there’s an Alaveteli site in your country.

For campaigners and organisations needing to make multiple FoI requests to large numbers of authorities, or for those who need to keep their requests private until the story is broken, check out Alaveteli Professional. This tool is currently in development and will launch first in the UK as WhatDoTheyKnowPro. All other Alaveteli sites will then have the option of deploying it for their users, with Info Pro Všechny in the Czech Republic slated to be the first.

For inspiration, browse these case studies to see how campaigners have used Freedom of Information.

Case studies

Asbestos in schools

A one-woman campaign to discover which UK schools contain asbestos.

The Detention Logs project

Campaigners fight to uncover conditions in Australia’s detention centres for immigrants.

EU travel expenses

AskTheEU spearheads a campaign for richer information on commissioners’ expenses.

Showing the local picture

FOI responses supported a campaign to show how provision for erectile dysfunction varies across the UK.

Aston Martin and the Welsh Government

Using FOI to uncover hidden financial incentives.

Injustice for wheelchair users

Surveying local councils to see which ones aren’t deploying anti-discrimination laws

 

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Image: Andrew Neel (Unsplash)