We note that the ATIA, at least in theory, established a system of “open by default” some three decades ago. To avoid this being just an empty slogan or buzzword, concrete proposals are needed. The most important change in this area over the last thirty years has been the development of sophisticated information technologies, which provide enormous practical opportunities for realising ‘open by default’, and we recommend that a commitment be made to put in place specific measures to harness this power for access to information.
There are a number of options here, but some concrete ideas include:
• Automatic, real time central tracking of requests and how they are being/have been processed, along with the regular release of key metadata about them.
• Significantly expanded tagging and keyword insertion during creation of formal documents, in order to assist users in finding the information they need (i.e. to enhance searchability).
• Putting in place systems for the real time updating of information and substantially enhancing the (automatic) proactive disclosure of information through tagging at the time of creation of a document.
• Pre-tagging of exempt information in documents as they are being created, in particular private information, so that this can be redacted quickly and easily for purposes of releasing the document, either proactively or pursuant to a request.
This in an excerpt from our full submission to the Open Government consultation. For the full submission, go to: http://www.law-democracy.org/live/canada-bold-action-needed-on-open-government/.