Blacked Out: Government Secrecy in the Information Age by Alasdair Roberts

By Alasdair Roberts

In 1966 the U.S. Congress handed the landmark Freedom of data Act (FOIA) giving the general public the fitting to entry govt records. This "right to know" has been used over the intervening years to problem overreaching Presidents and secretive executive companies. this instance of governmental transparency has served as an inspiring working example to international locations around the globe, spawning related statutes in fifty-nine nations. but, regardless of those international efforts to foster openness in executive, secrecy nonetheless persists--and in lots of cases--sometimes prospers. Alasdair Roberts, a fashionable legal professional, public coverage specialist, and foreign authority on transparency in govt, examines the evolution of the fad towards governmental openness and the way technological advancements have assisted the disclosure and dissemination of data. within the method he bargains a entire examine the worldwide efforts to limit secrecy and gives readers with a essentially written consultant to these components the place the conflict over secrecy is such a lot severe. Drawing on situations from many alternative international locations, Roberts is going additional than the preferred view that secrecy is just an issue of egocentric bureaucrats attempting to disguise embarrassing info through displaying how such strong traits as privatization, globalization, and the "networking" of safety firms are complicating the struggle opposed to secrecy. In our time whilst new terror threats galvanize in all likelihood counter-productive measures that abate openness, the necessity for a radical and dispassionate dialogue of openness in democratic societies is mainly acute. Written in a fascinating sort, Blacked Out powerfully illustrates why transparency issues and why the fight for openness is so tricky. Alasdair Roberts is affiliate Professor within the Maxwell university of Citizenship and Public Affairs and Director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse college. An internationally-recognized expert on open govt, he has written over thirty magazine articles and publication chapters. he's a 2005 recipient of the Johnson Award for top Paper in Ethics and responsibility within the Public zone. He has been a fellow of the Open Society Institute and the Woodrow Wilson middle for students, and is a member of the Initiative for coverage Dialogue's Transparency activity Force.


Alasdair Roberts' Blacked Out is a fast paced, well-informed and engrossing account of the emergence of a world stream to carry governments dependable by means of requiring them to reveal details they might really withhold to hide corruption, bureaucratic incompetence, environmental degradation, human rights abuses and different misconduct. it really is crucial studying for proponents of open societies.
-Aryeh Neier, President, Open Society Institute

"Alasdair Roberts has written a monumentally vital booklet, not just approximately secrecy and the right-to-know stream, yet in regards to the deeply troubling 'ethic of detachment' and quiescence of the yank public. What solid is important information regarding abuses of energy if there is not any responsibility, if nobody acts on that information?"
-Charles Lewis, President, The Fund for Independence in Journalism

"Professor Roberts presents prepared insights into the facility fight over secretiveness in supranational institutions...Blacked Out makes it crystal transparent that the sport has replaced significantly by way of guarding citizens' correct to information regarding the actions carried out through governments and their inner most surrogates."
-Doris Graber, college of Illinois

"Blacked Out, is an available and unique account of the increase and partial fall of the knowledge disclosure tradition in governments round the world."
-Craig Forcese, Ottawa legislation Review

"Roberts describes the strategies that politicians and bureaucrats have used to maintain govt secrecy, explains how profound adjustments within the constitution of government-notably privatization of public services-are complicating campaigns for openness, and notes how new info applied sciences occasionally improve openness, yet occasionally create barriers."
-Future Survey

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Extra info for Blacked Out: Government Secrecy in the Information Age

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2 ) Strangely, though, the F16 index remained intact. By destroying it, the Stasi leadership might have made the entire file system unintelligible. Their aim, however, was not to destroy the system: The aim was to scrub the files, not ruin them. Stasi officials assumed that the organization would survive in some form, and that their files would continue as the heart of its operations. Even at the end, the intelligence service underestimated the intensity of popular anger. The Stasi itself was finally buried in 1990, but its filing system lived on – and even thrived, in a sense.

86 Research found that support for the war was closely tied to popular beliefs about Iraqi complicity in the September 11th attacks and the threat that Iraq posed to American security. In a succession of polls, a majority of Americans said that they believed there was clear evidence of Iraqi involvement in the September 11th attacks; a nearmajority said that Saddam Hussein had been “personally involved” in the attacks. ”88 These assessments were later repudiated. S. 93 How had the American public come to hold opinions about Iraq that proved to be so badly misguided?

It will seem odd to think of networking as a threat to transparency – after all, one of the aims in network building is to break down impediments to the flow of information among agencies within the network. However, this sort of information sharing often comes at a steep price: the construction of barriers designed to ensure that shared information is never disclosed to people or organizations outside the network, including citizens, journalists, and legislators. The results can be a decline in external accountability for every agency in the network.

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