The RSS has responded to the Independent Commission on Freedom of Information's call for evidence for its review of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000.
The Commission was set up earlier this year to review the FOI Act and consider the balance between transparency and privacy in the light of increasing amounts of data being generated by platforms such as medical records, government administrative data and social media.
In the letter (PDF), the Royal Statistical Society states its position that freedom of information should be maintained. RSS executive director Hetan Shah wrote in the letter: 'Whilst we welcome the steps taken by government to put more information in the public sphere, we believe that the growth of open data published by government is complementary to the right to information set out in the FoI Act, rather than a replacement for it.'
The letter also references the Society's Data Manifesto, which advocates the need for 'citizens to have access to good quality local data'. And while there may be costs involved in making information available to the public, the letter concludes: 'We believe it is a small cost for increasing public trust in decisions made that affect everyone’s day-to-day lives.'
The consultation, which is now closed, has had more than 30,000 responses. The Commission has invited some parties to provide oral evidence, on the 20 and 25 January 2016, and intends to report as soon as possible after these sessions.