International Right to Know Day was established by access to information advocates from around the globe. It was first celebrated on 28 September 2003, and 2011 will see the 9th International Right to Know Day.
The aim of Right to Know Day is to raise awareness of every individual’s right of access to government-held information: the right to know how elected officials are exercising power and how the tax-payers’ money is being spent.
Whether you have tried to ask ‘that’ question of your local council or a government department, today is the day you should try. It really is easy, all you have to do is email them asking the question you want an answer to. Currently I am assembling statistics on the number of data protection breaches the police in Scotland have incurred and the actions taken. You may just want to know how much money has been spent on those ridiculous speed bumps in your road or why there are so many mini roundabouts or sets of traffic lights in the town and how much of your council tax has been spent on them.
Do you ever wonder what that big chimney on the edge of town is for? What causes the smoke and why it smells so bad? You have the right to ask under the Environmental Information Regulations, just ask.
All you need to do is log on to the council website and go to the Freedom of Information section and just send in your request. They have to reply to you within 20 working days and also tell you the answer to your question or where you can find the answer.
So go on, give it a try, what have you got to lose?