I am a sarcastic cow, I am used to being a sarcastic cow and I am comfortable being a sarcastic cow. When the time comes to simply recommend an article in the Guardian my non-sarcastic mooing sounds all funny in my own ears. But, here goes: I recommend you read ‘Freedom of information is for businesses too’ by Heather Brooke.
A request by tobacco giant Philip Morris International has reignited concern about the use of freedom of information laws. The data it was interested in was collected as part of a survey of teenagers and smoking carried out by the university’s Centre for Tobacco Control Research.
The UK’s FoI law is meant to be applicant blind. This means anyone can ask a public body for official information and there should be no discrimination based on the identity of the person asking. In the case of scientific research conducted and funded in the public’s name, there is a strong argument that the underlying data and methodology should be disclosed. It is precisely this transparency that grants research reports their status as robust investigations.