UPDATE: The petition has now had more than 85,000 signatures supporting the FOI Act. 

A petition to protect the Freedom of Information Act from government meddling has reached more than 43,000 signatures.

The Change.org petition, which was started yesterday evening and rocketed in support, calls for the protection of the FOI Act.

“Protect our Freedom of Information laws, that give people the right to hold our decision makers to account,” says the brief campaigning note.

It comes following the launch of the government’s FOI Commission that has been tasked with looking at possible changes to the transparency legislation.

Since the Commission was announced there has been a growing backlash to its membership, which is formed largely of those who want to dismantle the Act and have worked at the highest levels of government. The World Wide Web Foundation – formed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee – has said that there should, at very least, be a transparency specialist on the panel.  

Describing why they believe the petition is important the website writes:

The government wants to restrict Freedom of Information laws – that help citizens expose dodgy lobbyists, poor government decisions and threats to public safety. They’re desperate to water-down our right to hold them to account. While only a few of us may have ever made a request using Freedom of Information laws – they have the power to affect us all.

It was a ‘Freedom of Information’ (FOI) request that exposed the MPs’ expenses scandal. And it was another FOI request which exposed that a third of NHS contracts were being handed-out to private companies. FOI requests are critical for many of the campaigns that improve our society.

Newspapers and several Conservative MPs have already spoken out against the plans. A huge people-powered petition – signed by hundreds of thousands of us – will add even more pressure on the government to scrap their idea. Please sign the petition now.

The updated figures on this article were made on 8th September 2015. 

I am a journalist and author. I am a staff writer at the UK edition of WIRED magazine and in 2015 my book, Freedom of Information: A Practical Guide for UK Journalists, was published. I created FOI Directory in 2012.

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